Dec 16

A Response to “Tuck Everlasting” at The Umbrella Stage Company

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company
Based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt
Book by Claudia Shear & Tim Federle
Music by Chris Miller
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis
Music direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Lara Finn Banister

December 6 – 22, 2019
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742
USC on Facebook

Response by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) I have wrestled with my response to the Umbrella Stage Company’s production of Tuck Everlasting. Writing this essay has been difficult. I do not publish these words lightly. It hurts my heart to do so. But, out of love for those who may be negatively impacted by this musical, I must. It is more important to protect children than it is to be polite.

Interpretations of art change over time. The innocuous children’s literature of a previous generation can serve as a clear warning signal to this one. Times have changed. Tuck Everlasting is no longer just a story about living life to its fullest. It is now also a story about predatory grooming and the community that would have excused the predatory behavior as normal.

Tuck Everlasting the musical is about the predatory grooming of a minor. In it, Jesse Tuck, a 102-year-old adult (sexual) predator who looks 17-years-old, meets pre-pubescent, 11-year-old girl Winnie Foster in the wilds of an NH forest. He begins grooming her for marriage while she is removed from parental oversight.

Winnie gets away from Jesse by chance because of an altercation with a gun. She is not saved by parental or community interference. She is not saved by her clever mind or spunky attitude. She is saved by chance.

Out of respect to the hardworking cast and crew of Everlasting Tuck, I cannot delve into the performative details of this musical. I am finding it impossible to separate their work from the context of the production.In any other context, I would happily sing their praises.  I apologize for this.

Everlasting Tuck could start a conversation about how predators groom children as well as communities. Unfortunately, the conversations I overheard at the theatre on Saturday afternoon told me that the audience instead took a hard left at discussing this necessary topic. It is not more important to congratulate hardworking friends than it is to point out social evils.

I understand why no one was saying anything; no one wants to be the bad guy by pointing out the obvious dangers in the room. I don’t mind incurring blame if it means children are protected from sexual predators like the White Rhino Report’s Al Chase and Boston Children’s Theatre’s Burgess Clark. Communities enable predatory grooming by ignoring the signs and making excuses instead.

A lot of grooming looks normal from the outside. It is up to a community to notice the signs of predatory behavior and put a stop to them. I’ve listed resources to help identify it below.

Community politics are not more important than protecting children. I did not speak up when I was a little girl involved in a poisonous theatre production. I am speaking up now.

Resources:

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Oct 07

The Broadway Facts of Life: “42nd Street”

PREVIEW: The Umbrella Stage Company Presents 42nd Street from The Umbrella on Vimeo.

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company 
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by James Murphy
Musical restaging and new choreography by Lara Finn Banister

September 27 – October 20, 2019
The Umbrella Main Stage 
Concord, MA
The Umbrella Stage on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) 42nd Street is a show-within-a-show jukebox musical serving as a thinly veiled excuse to pair tap dance with 1930’s Broadway hits. The 1933 Depression-era movie had choreography by Busby Berkeley and was nominated for an Academy Award. The movie (and eventually the musical) has deeply impacted musical theatre. Bullets Over Broadway, Kiss Me Kate and other backstage musicals have all been influenced by 42nd Street’s incarnations. It’s a classic but carries with it the problems of its time.   Continue reading

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Oct 14

Jigsaw Transcendence: “Angels in America – Perestroika”

Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Presented by Umbrella Arts
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

The Umbrella
Concord, MA
October 3 – October 18, 2014
Umbrella Arts on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Concord, MA) In 100 years, Tony Kushner’s sprawling masterpiece of Angels in America might be studied by school-kids, much like the Odyssey. That might be the right setting, providing a full semester to fully take in this script. Kushner asks us to follow along as he pinballs between real and surreal, politics and religion, gay culture and religion. Each well-developed scene feels like a glistening jewel of a short story, complete in pacing and characters, but it can be very hard to understand how these pieces come together into one cohesive story. If you’re watching the play for the first time, it can feel like reading a New Yorker magazine from cover to cover in one sitting. Continue reading

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May 05

Profound Confusion: ANGELS IN AMERICA

PART 1 MILLENNIUM APPROACHES

Presented by The Umbrella Community Arts Center
Written by Tony Kushner
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

April 18 – April 27th, 2014
Concord, MA
Umbrella Community Arts on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Concord) There was a time we would like to forget in U.S. history when AIDS was a painful, quick, and lonely death sentence, one largely suffered by gay men. The gay community was stratified into victims and survivors, and everyone was scared and scarred. Yet amidst this plague, the gay community did not break, having developed an inner strength in the face of years of oppression that galvanized it to action. Continue reading

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Mar 24

Rock Out with Your Snark Out: BLOODY, BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON

Photo care of Emerson Umbrella Facebook page.

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson
Presented by The Umbrella Mainstage
Written by Alex Timbers
Music & Lyrics by Michael Friedman
Directed by James Tallach
Music Directed by Maria Duaime Robinson
Choreography by Lara Finn
Fight Choreography by Micah Greene

March 21 – April 5
The Umbrella Community Arts Center
Concord, MA
The Umbrella on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Disclosure: I have worked with both directors James Tallach, Maria Duaime Robinson, and a cast member or two. This review is tempered to reflect this.

(Concord) History favors old, White dudes. Heck, old, White dudes are favored now.  If Green Day had collaborated on an historical punk musical with Bill Clinton, Lindsay Lohan and George Michael, chances are they would have written Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (let us all say a silent prayer for Clinton’s potential saxophone career). And it would be a huge hit. Fans of American Idiot the musical will appreciate the music of BBAJ. They will also appreciate the snarky treatment of a politician who purported to be the People’s President but, after all is said and done, was only in it for himself. History has repeated itself and punk happens to be the medium for this particular telling. Continue reading

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