Village’s ‘Tutor’ brings musical about novelist, teen muse to Everett

Edmund wants to write a novel.

The 30-something lives in a dive apartment in Manhattan. He’s a starving artist who at least can afford bowls of cereal.

Edmund figures he has the perfect formula for how to get that novel finished: Write all morning; tutor rich kids on the Upper Eastside in the afternoon to buy groceries.

“The Tutor” is Village Theatre’s latest production, 10 years after the show debuted at Village’s Festival of New Musicals in 2004. The witty, energetic pop musical comedy opens tonight at the Everett Performing Arts Center. As the show’s promoters say, it’s “full of family drama, creative angst and romantic blunders.”

Edmund isn’t having much success with his novel and his characters tell him so. In fact, they complain.

After lying about where he went to college (not Princeton), Edmund gets hired by the Princeton alumni parents to tutor their sullen earbuds-wearing trouble-maker, Sweetie. They want her to attend Princeton, too.

This teenager, who becomes a muse for the novelist, speaks with emotional honesty. Edmund’s novel gets better. His characters approve. Then Sweetie runs away from home.

Lucky for Village audiences, Eric Ankrim plays Edmund.

This talented actor-singer-director is well-known in Seattle regional theater circles. In the fall he will direct Village’s production of the Tony-award-winning musical “In the Heights.”

Ankrim just returned from New York following his Broadway debut in “First Date,” which he starred in during the show’s premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue.

He first played the role of Edmund in 2004 and 2005 when “The Tutor” had a brief run as a Village original developmental production.

Issaquah High School senior Katie Griffith, 17, plays Sweetie. She grew up on Village’s KidStage. With her part in “The Tutor,” Katie takes on her first lead actress role, and does well.

As do the rest of the small cast.

Beth DeVries, who most recently played Fantine in the Village production of “Les Miserables,” is great as Sweetie’s mother, Esther.

Hugh Hastings, who has appeared in 13 previous Village mainstage productions, plays Esther’s husband, Richard.

Especially delightful are Kirsten deLohr Helland and Matthew Kacergis, who have to make some amazingly quick costume changes between scenes as Edmund’s novel bounces them from era to era.

Helland, who played Eponine in “Les Miserables,” has the role of Edmund’s character Hildegarde in his novel, as well as the hippie chick Pippi, who Sweetie befriends at a protest rally. Their song, “Don’t Eat Your Friends” is an audience favorite.

Kacergis, who was Marius in the recent “Les Miz,” plays the novel character Sean, along with Sweetie’s immature boyfriend, Bo.

Andrew Gearle composed the music and Maryrose Wood wrote the book and lyrics.

“The Tutor” is directed by David Ira Goldstein, who recently directed “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Xanadu” for Village Theatre.

Jessica Low is the choreographer, Jeff Bell is the music director, Scott Fyfe is the scenic designer, Alex Berry is the lighting designer and Kish Finnegan is the costume designer. Paulette Buse stage manages.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

“The Tutor”

“The Tutor” is staged by Village Theatre through May 25 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, which range in price, call 425-257-8600. For more information, go to villagetheatre.org.

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