Mom Theatre Blogger: Daddy Long Legs: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
Starring Megan McGinnis (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Side Show, Little Women) and Paul Alexander Nolan (Broadway’s Once, Jesus Christ Superstar, Doctor Zhivago) and based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster, DADDY LONG LEGS features music and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Paul Gordon (Sense and Sensibility), book by Tony Award and Olivier Award winner John Caird (Les Misérables), and direction by John Caird.
DADDY LONG LEGS tells the heartfelt tale of Jerusha Abbott (McGinnis), the oldest orphan in the John Grier Home. One day, a rich, anonymous benefactor Jervis Pendleton (Nolan) decides to send her to college, with the caveat that she write to him monthly. Unaware of his identity, she playfully names him Daddy Long Legs.
Jerusha eloquently shares her tales of college and her innermost thoughts and desires, trusting that they are safe with him. As fate would have it, at school, she befriends a cousin of Jervis, and she and Jervis meet when he comes to visit. She has no clue that it’s actually Jervis, himself, who is the benefactor reading and saving all her letters. In her mind, her sponsor is an elderly man delighting in her growth and providing both monetary and emotional support ….the father figure she never had. Eventually, though, she views him as the absentee cheerleader in the wings who breaks her heart when he doesn’t attend graduation day.
Over the years, Jervis, a young, attractive bachelor, had fallen in love with the collegiate Jerusha and decides he must pull away and let her fly. She find success as an author, and Jervis takes a leap of faith and proposes. She declines because she feels undeserving, given his stature, and that if he were to know the truth about her coming from the Home, he might not like it. Ultimately, he confesses it was he who sponsored her, and while feeling betrayed, she comes to realize that she, too, had grown to count on him in more ways than one and did in fact return his love.
The casting is spot on. With her big saucer, expressive eyes, and tendrils falling softly on her face, we feel both Jerushas spunk and longing. McGinnis delivers a layered, emotional portrayal of a feisty young woman strong in her convictions and aspirations, yet frustrated by a relationship she does not fully understand. Songs like Like Other Girls and I Couldn’t Know Someone Less show off her sweet, beautiful, voice.
Nolan is the perfect, straight match to her spunk, and his powerful voice soars impressively when he sings Charity. His is a highly controlled, yet impassioned performance.
Duets like The Secret of Happiness and All This Time show off his softer side and tender harmonizing with McGinnis.
DADDY LONG LEGS premiered at the Rubicon Theatre Company in 2009, and has had productions throughout the United States as well as international productions in Canada, Tokyo and London’s West End. The show features scenic (richly detailed) and costume design by Olivier Award winner and Tony Award nominee David Farley (Sunday in the Park With George), lighting design by Paul Toben (Broadway’s The Story Of My Life), sound design by Peter Fitzgerald (Penn & Teller on Broadway), and music direction, arrangements and orchestrations by Brad Haak (An American in Paris).
The intimacy of the Davenport Theatre lends itself well to the work, and it proves to be a satisfying and emotionally engaging theatrical work.
Tickets for DADDY LONG LEGS, are on sale now at www.telecharge.com or by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6222. Visit www.daddylonglegsmusical.com.