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Here's what critics are saying about new Broadway musical 'Tuck Everlasting'

'Tuck' is based on the classic children's novel of the same name by Natalie Babbitt and stars Sarah Charles Lewis, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Terrence Mann.

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    'Tuck Everlasting' stars Sarah Charles Lewis (r.) and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (l.).
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A musical based on the classic Natalie Babbitt children's novel "Tuck Everlasting" has opened on Broadway and depicts the well-known story of a young girl who meets an immortal family. 

"Tuck" was first published in 1975 and centers on Winnie Foster, a young girl who must decide whether to continue with her normal life or drink from a magic spring and join the Tuck family, who will live forever.

The musical version stars Sarah Charles Lewis in her Broadway debut as Winnie, Andrew Keenan-Bolger of "Newsies" as Tuck's brother Jesse, and "Les Miserables" actor Terrence Mann as the Man in the Yellow Suit, who suspects something is strange about the Tuck family. 

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New York Times writer Charles Isherwood found the show to be "warm-spirited and piercingly touching." 

"[Director Casey Nicholaw] also evinces a natural feel for the tender emotional core of the material and even its layers of mildly dark philosophical inquiry," Mr. Isherwood writes. "The actors throughout are excellent." However, he noted that the show "can sometimes be a little ham-handed in addressing its central theme, the notion that life's beauty is inseparable from its inevitable end."

And Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press called the show "wonderfully crafted.... Poignancy mixes well with humor, the songs are fresh and sweet, the set is blissful and the performances honest." 

However, Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribune writes that those behind the musical are "determined to tell the story of those who drink from the waters of eternal life in the language of whimsy.... Even much of the acting is plumby and fantastical.... But it removes much of the tension from a story filled with agonizing decision-making and enough talk of life and death to keep anyone awake at night. Such an approach distances the audience from the piece." 

The Broadway musical is only the newest adaptation of Ms. Babbitt's story, with the narrative having been brought to the big screen for a 2002 film starring Alexis Bledel, William Hurt, and Sissy Spacek, among other versions. 

In terms of the appeal of the novel, a Booklist review wrote that "Tuck" discusses themes about which many wonder: "Beautiful and descriptive language is the strength of Babbitt's fantasy about Winnie and her encounter with the Tuck family, who cause her – and readers – to ponder an important question: What would it be like to live forever?"  

Meanwhile, author Gregory Maguire wrote of the book, "This novel will live for a long time. Maybe not forever. Very few things last forever. If I had to make a bet about lasting value, though, I’d bet that 'Tuck Everlasting' will continue to intrigue readers young and old...."

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