Daddy Long Legs: “DO NOT MISS IT…”
Daddy Long Legs
Merrimack Repertory Theater, Lowell, MA
February 9 – March 4, 2012
Directed by John Caird
Music & Lyrics by Paul Gordon
Book by John Caird, based on a novel by Jean Webster
It’s not very often when you see an audience rise to their feet in unison for an ovation. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind… no holding back. Set in 1912 New England, Daddy Long Legs, a musical (truth be known, an operetta delivered in extraordinary voices and delightful melodies to live music), is such an engaging show that that the entire audience fell in love and wasn’t afraid to show it. They loved the sweet, spunky, and smart Jerusha Abbot (Megan McGinnis), an orphan sent to college by an anonymous donor, Jervis Pendleton (Robert Adelman Hancock). The deal is that she is to write him a letter each week, and over the course of time, he becomes so intrigued that he has to meet her. Not wanting to reveal himself, he devises a scheme to befriend her yet keep his secret, yet he becomes caught in his own rules. McGinnis and Hancock both shine in their roles.
Up to the high bar of MRT standards, the set is clever and creates a convincing turn-of-the-century world. Jervis’s upstage library is perfectly-constructed with panels and books, and downstage, Jerusha territory, is scattered with steamer trunks that serve as an orphanage, a college dorm, a farm, and when they are stacked, work as a hilltop. Jerusha’s costumes are pulled out of the trunks as well as she prepares for each new part of her life.
Projected video of Jerusha’s perfect handwriting, highlights each group of letters and gives a sense of place. Directed under the hand of John Caird, a Tony and Olivier award-winning director for Les Miserables and Nichaolas Nickleby as well as scores of other shows, the show has the tight pacing and quality of Broadway.
The lyrics are clever and often philosophical: “The secret of happiness is to enjoy the ride, not mourn the past, not to run to fast…”
I can’t think of a more perfect show to run in February… it is full of love, but not overly sentimental. I would suggest two things: One is DO NOT MISS it and the other is to bring some Kleenex.