Tuck Everlasting is the latest exciting endeavor by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society (JPAS). In a 19th-century small backwoods village called Treegap, the 11-year-old “good girl” Winnie Foster (Bree Hollis) lives a quiet and mundane existence alone with her grandmother (Helen Blanke) and mother (Chrissy Bowen). Following the death of Winnie’s father, her mother has grown even more protective of her and keeps her on a very short leash. Tired of her sheltered life, Winnie runs away from home in search of fun and adventure.
It is then that she stumbles across the Tuck family: Mae Tuck (Melissa Cotton Hunter), her husband, Angus (Patrick Hunter), and their two sons Jesse (Aaron Richert) and Miles (Bryce Slocumb), who have accidentally discovered the fountain of youth. Having sipped from a magic spring in the woods, all four of them are now destined to live forever, as the spring bestows immortality on all who drink its water. The Tucks are immune from both aging and injury, but discover that eternal life not nearly as much fun as you would think. They are forced into hiding in the woods to avoid anyone discovering their secret, but unfortunately, the nefarious Man in the Yellow Suit (Kristopher Lloyd Shaw) is onto them. If he succeeds in his goals of bottling and selling water from the magic spring—a “sip of forever”—for profit, it will bring endless (literally) trouble to all the Tucks.
This musical production is colorful, vibrant, and entertaining. The cast shows off their powerful singing voices as well as their dance moves. The young Hollis is a very talented Winnie Foster and surely has a promising musical career ahead of her. And when Winnie and Jesse sneak out one night to go to the traveling fair that is in town, the musical number that ensues is among the best of the show. “Join the Parade” is lively and captivating with clap-out-loud catchy music, and complete with acrobatics and Rockettes-worthy dance steps.
Humor infiltrates the story as well, such as the very funny “You Can’t Trust a Man,” a song about the show’s villain that tells you why you should be very suspicious of men who wear banana-colored suits and are funnel-cake wielding carnies.
On the more serious side, Tuck Everlasting also really makes you think about the importance of life and living it to the fullest. Focusing on the significance of important moments and the memories you take away from them, this show teaches you to enjoy the time you have, rather than always longing for more of it or taking life for granted. Angus Tuck tells Winnie, “Don’t be afraid of dying. Be afraid of never being alive. You don’t need to live forever … you just need to really live.” Definitely words to live by.
Though JPAS’s short run of Tuck Everlasting has—unlike its immortal characters—come to a sad end, their next production will be The Hunchback of Notre Dame, playing from February 23 thru March 4. This upcoming show will surely be every bit as enjoyable as this one.
Tuck Everlasting and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are both performed at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center (JPAC), located at 6400 Airline Dr. in Metairie. For tickets and information on upcoming JPAS shows, go to JPAS.org.