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High school brings humor, music and life lessons to the stage

Senior Lindsey Knoll (center) plays the lead character, Winnie, in "Tuck Everlasting." In the story, Winnie must decide whether or not to pursue eternal life. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)1 / 2
Junior Sydney Christenson (left), senior Jackson Grove (left inside), junior Samuel Maier (right inside) and senior Levi Lotti (right) take the stage during the opening scene of fall musical "Tuck Everlasting." (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)2 / 2

The play of "Tuck Everlasting" doesn't quite fit one specific genre — and that's exactly the reason that the Alexandria Area High School theater department has enjoyed bringing it to life.

According to assistant director Raymond Noble, the musical is different than any other show the department has produced.

"We've done the jukebox musical of 'Footloose,' which is all spectacle basically," he said. "We've done 'Spamalot,' which is all humor. We've done 'Poppins,' which is a well-known story for everybody. This one is very exciting because not a lot of people know the story of 'Tuck Everlasting.' Or, if they have seen the movie or read the book, they probably have not heard the music and seen this production."

The musical, which closed on Broadway last year, is based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt. "Tuck Everlasting" takes place in New Hampshire in 1893 and tells the story of 11-year-old Winnie Foster, who is given the chance at eternal life after encountering the Tuck family. Winnie must decide if she will live out her life as humans do, or live forever with the Tuck family.

Senior Lindsey Knoll, who plays the character of Winnie, had never heard of "Tuck Everlasting" before it was announced as the fall musical. But once she started learning about it, she felt drawn to the story and to Winnie.

"I started looking into it and was like, 'Wow, this play actually has a huge lesson in it,'" she said. "For people to hear that story is amazing because it actually can impact someone a lot. ... For me, it's amazing to tell that story and try and convince the audience that death is good and it's OK to live a full life."

Since the show closed on Broadway just last year, the rights were only recently released. Alexandria Area High School is one of the first schools to take on the production, which director Jessica Chipman says can be exhilarating but also difficult.

"One of the challenges of working on a new show is that it hasn't been produced by many organizations prior to our production," she said. "That's thrilling for artists who want to create fresh versions of characters, production and design, and we're well aware of the responsibility and privilege we've been awarded by the rights organization."

As opening night approaches, Knoll says the cast and crew are working to fine-tune details and come together to perform cohesively. She hopes that come opening night, the audience is as touched by "Tuck Everlasting" as she has been.

"I feel more connected to the show than usual because it just hits you on a personal level," Knoll said. "It's going to be emotional for some people. It's very heartfelt and can touch anyone. We can't wait to show people."

Tuck Everlasting Fall Musical

When: Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m

Where: The Alexandria Area High School Performing Arts Center

Cost: $10 for adults, $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the Alexandria Area High School office, at the door or by visiting www.greateventseats.com/events.php?lID=188.

For more information call 320-762-2142 or 320-762-3310.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233
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