North Hill’s production of ‘Tuck Everlasting’ a new musical experience
Year after year, the North Hills High School Drama Club puts on amazing productions of the world’s most well-known musicals.
In 2019, they decided to do something different.
One hundred students, including actors, dancers, orchestra players and crew members, will come together for “Tuck Everlasting,” which made its Broadway debut in March 2016 and only became available for licensing last summer. North Hills is one of the first schools in Pennsylvania to perform the show. It will run March 21 to 23 and 28 to 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
Based on Natalie Babbitt’s best-selling children’s classic, “Tuck Everlasting” tells the tale of 11-year-old Winnie Foster and her experiences with the immortal Tuck Family. The girl must decide between eternal life or a return to her mortal existence.
Director Lauren Sarazen, who has worked on district productions for eight years, says she’s excited to give audiences something new.
“It’s very unique to our drama program,” she says. “We have never done anything like this before. It’s set in the late-1800s, but the music and dancing are more contemporary.”
While directing “Fiddler on the Roof” at Vincentian Academy last spring, Sarazen took a group of her students to see a live production of “Tuck Everlasting” and they loved it.
She knew “Tuck Everlasting” would be a perfect fit.
Sophomore Zach Ford agrees.
“I feel like everybody in the production is cast perfectly,” says the 16-year-old, who plays Jesse. “I love the music and the dancing and the overall atmosphere. And it’s not like the typical musical with a happily-ever-after ending.”
Rehearsals stared Jan. 2. Students meet six days a week to work on everything from choreography to set design, including the construction of a giant, climbable tree.
Julia Arlia, 16, a junior, plays the lead role of Winnie Foster. While she read the novel in third grade and has worked behind-the-scenes on several shows, this will be her first time singing in a high school production.
“We still have a couple more weeks, so I’m not in panic-mode yet,” she says with a laugh. “I’m excited to show everyone how underrated ‘Tuck Everlasting’ really is. It’s all completely new; a breath of fresh air.”
Like Julia, fifth-graders at Highcliff Elementary School read “Tuck Everlasting” in class and will take a special field trip to see it come to life.
For 17-year-old Eleanore Pavelle, playing a role that audience members might not be familiar with is more of a challenge than embodying a well-known character.
“If you’ve seen a character played by a lot of different people, it can influence how you perform,” says the senior, who plays Mae Tuck.
“It’s a newer show that no one’s really seen performed by a high school before. It’s a unique experience not to have so much of an outside influence.”
Senior Sean Nolan, 17, plays Miles Tuck and actually contacted his Broadway counterpart to get advice on how to tackle the role and make it his own.
“For my senior year I really wanted to give it my all,” he says.
Kristina Serafini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kristina at 412-324-1405, [email protected] or via Twitter .