Into the Wild
life off the grid eventually led him to starve to death in an abandoned school bus in the Alaskan wilderness. Chris McCandless's life story was made famous in 1996 by Jon Krakauer's book of the same title.
McCandless is smart, smug, priggish, boyish; a noble nonmaterialist; an explorer caught in the wrong century. Because musicals tend to flatten complex characters into more vivid, theatrically useful versions of themselves, the best and most surprising achievement of Into the Wild is to retain the contradictions of the man in Krakauer's book. Conor Ryan is made for this physically demanding role. Tall and lanky, with a voice almost too robust for the small theater, he seems by the end to have shrunk to half his own size.
Tappan middle-schooler Connor Casey, who plays young Chris, is wonderful too. In one heartbreaking scene old and young Chris sing to each other. A talented supporting cast brings to life a trail of characters Chris encountered in his travels--actress Alexandra Reynolds, with the sparkly, sly whimsy of a young Parker Posey, is particularly beguiling playing an almost-girlfriend.
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