Tuck Everlasting, Lifeline Theatre.

Natalie Babbitt’s 1975 novel for young adults has a timeless theme–that death is part of life–and a sharp wit and style appealing to those older than its 13-year-old protagonist, Winnie Foster. In Lifeline Theatre’s production of Mark Frattaroli’s adaptation, director Jay Paul Skelton transforms Babbitt’s coming-of-age story into a breathtaking piece of theater.

Rob Martin’s set imaginatively suggests the remoteness of rural America in the late 1800s, and the audience is taken into the restless heat of August’s dog days as characters appear, then disappear, offering ghostly narration. From the beginning Skelton’s staging invites us into a mystical place. Also contributing to the fairy-tale atmosphere is Eric Lane Barnes’s score, played by violinist Phyllis Coleman, who’s part of the stage picture–part of the world we enter. Never intrusive, Barnes’s music and Coleman’s presence add a rich layer of feeling.

Winnie (played by Lauren Anne Bassi in a successful Lifeline debut) is an endearing heroine. Leaving home to explore the surrounding woods, she discovers a beautiful boy and his family, the Tucks, who let her in on a secret: years before, the Tucks drank from a magical stream and now will live forever. Seeing firsthand the toil of time without change forces Winnie to examine the cycles of existence and consider what makes the journey of life worthwhile. Lifeline’s production of Tuck Everlasting similarly allows its audience to look into the sacred place of the imagination and consider immortality and joy.