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South Jordan Journal

‘Tuck Everlasting’ to be performed at Kensington Theatre

Nov 26, 2018 02:02PM ● By Justin Adams

Winnie Foster and Jesse Tuck in the Kensington production Tuck Everlasting. (Photo courtesy Kensington Theatre)

By Sarah Payne | s.payne@mycityjournals.com

Fans of the theater and the family alike will be thrilled by the upcoming stage rendering of Natalie Babbitt’s classic novel “Tuck Everlasting,” according to play director and theater lover Toni Butler. The show will go on stage Dec. 7-17 at the Kensington Theatre (11709 S. Vadania Drive).

This marks only the second occasion where “Tuck Everlasting” has been performed on stage in Utah. Originally seen only on Broadway, the rights to put on the play became available only recently. It is a retelling of a classic tale.
The story of Tuck Everlasting follows the adventures of an 11-year-old girl named Winnie Foster and her friends, the Tuck family. This is no ordinary family, but one with a secret. Thanks to a magical spring from which each member of the family has drunk, they receive everlasting life. None of the Tucks have aged a day in the last 100 years. 

Although this seems to be a wonderful thing, such immortality has its cost, as the Tuck family discovers. Life, for them, does not go on. Instead, it has simply stagnated, for the past 100 years. Their family has simply been stuck.

Winnie becomes good friends with the Tuck family, particularly their son Jesse. Jesse has been the equivalent of a 17-year-old boy all these years, since this was his age at the time he drank from the spring. The two grow close, coming to the point where Jesse suggests to Winnie that she drink from the spring at the age of 17 and join him in immortality. Winnie has a big decision before her. Should she drink from the spring and live eternally? Or should she forgo the drink and live out the path her life should take, which inevitably means she will die? 

The father of the Tucks, Angus, takes Winnie fishing in an attempt to help her make up her mind. During this excursion, Angus gives Winnie a piece of advice which helps her decide what she must do. “You don’t need to live forever,” he tells her. “You just need to live.”

Toni Butler saw the original production of “Tuck Everlasting” on Broadway about two years ago, and she couldn’t help but think how good it would be for the community. “I just want to tell a story,” she said. “I want to give a gift to our community.”

Kensington Theatre is in its 10th year. Butler moved to South Jordan and started the theater with the help of the community. She runs it as a community theater, in which the actors are amateurs, not paid professionals, putting on a play simply because they love the theater as much as Butler does. “People just love it,” said Butler. “It’s fun to see how much they become a family and how much they enjoy telling a good story... A play unites a community really, really fast.” 

From small beginnings, the theater is now established in its South Jordan home. It is its own theater company, a new establishment with a full season. The Kensington Theatre has educational programs as well as classic plays such as the Crucible, Peter Pan, and Tarzan. “I believe theater is a gift,” said Butler. “We all have a responsibility to share that gift with the community so that people leave a little better than they came.” 

The theater’s production of “Tuck Everlasting” is made up of a talented cast. The two leads, Winnie Foster and Jesse Tuck, will be performed by Nikki Merrell and Preston Roland. “One of the funnest things about Kensington,” said Butler, “is that it was the community that made it. It was the community that said we want the arts there, and... now we’re in this wonderful, beautiful home. To me a community is a bunch of people who make a family, a home. We live in a welcoming place.” 

“Tuck Everlasting” will be a play aimed to make a positive impact on those who see it, to showcase the value of the family and of life itself. Eight shows will be performed during its run from Dec. 7-17: two Friday shows (Dec. 7 and 14 at 7 p.m.), four Saturday shows (Dec. 8 and 15 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and two Monday shows (Dec. 10 and 17 at 7 p.m.