Daddy Long Legs
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BWW Interview: Composer/Lyricist Paul Gordon and Bookwriter/Director John Caird on Making DADDY LONG LEGS Sing

BWW Interview:  Composer/Lyricist Paul Gordon and Bookwriter/Director John Caird on Making DADDY LONG LEGS Sing

"We will probably be the only adaptation to have stayed completely true to this lovely novel," says composer/lyricist Paul Gordon (left) about his latest collaboration with bookwriter/director John Caird, based on Jean Webster's 1912 Novel, DADDY LONG LEGS.

Webster's story of a college-age orphan, Jerusha, whose education and living expenses are paid for by a mysterious benefactor who sees her potential as a writer, is told through the monthly letters he requires her to send him. The letters capture the growth of her creative mind and also capture the heart of her benefactor, who she nicknames Daddy Long Legs. While the pair do meet in person, she is unaware of who the fellow she knows as Master Jervie really is.

"It's an incredibly popular novel in Japan," say Caird, whose Japanese wife, Malko, suggested it would make a good musical.

While there have been many films, a Broadway play (written by Webster, herself) and a West End musical based on the book, the best known of them detour significantly from the source.

"The whole joy of the novel is that you only know the other characters through the eyes of Jerusha," explains Caird. "It's the vividness of her imagination describing the other characters that makes them funny. As soon as you bring other characters on stage she becomes less active in the story."

Gordon's first impulse was to write a one-person musical when Caird handed him the novel and asked if he thought it had potential.

"Rather than answer the question I just wrote the first five songs. We played around with that for a while, but then John rightfully came to the conclusion that it really needed both characters to truly unfold and find the depth in the piece and tell the story that we wanted to tell."

"John, in writing the libretto, had to create Jervis' voice. He is the invented character in the musical."

DADDY LONG LEGS was first filmed as a 1919 silent feature starring Mary Pickford. A 1931 talkie starring Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter was followed four years later by a Shirley Temple version called CURLEY TOP, but the most famous film adaptation came in 1955, with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. The fact that Astaire was over thirty years older than his romantic co-star gives many the misconception that their age gap is consistent with what Webster wrote.

Caird explains, "The whole story is based on her misapprehension that he is older, so it doesn't actually work if he is older. It's quite a normal, healthy relationship in terms of age gap."

"It's an emotional growth story. It has two characters in it that grow, both at the same time. Because they only meet occasionally, they have a lot to sing about. They have to share with the audience what they can't share with each other. And that's the essential thing about a musical is that the characters must have lots of things to sing about."

BWW Interview:  Composer/Lyricist Paul Gordon and Bookwriter/Director John Caird on Making DADDY LONG LEGS Sing
Paul Alexander Nolan & Megan McGinnis in DADDY LONG LEGS (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

From the Tony-Award winning director of LES MISERABLES comes the intimate new musical DADDY LONG LEGS. Based on the classic novel which inspired the 1955 movie starring Fred Astaire-a beloved tale in the spirit of Jane Austen, The Brontë Sisters, and "Downton Abbey"-this heartwarming Cinderella story about a witty and winsome young woman and her mysterious benefactor has charmed audiences of all ages from Los Angeles to London. Critics are calling it "an exquisite gem of a musical," and "one of the most enthralling, entertaining and moving love stories on the American musical theater stage."

Starring Megan McGinnis (Broadway's LES MISERABLES, 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 MISERABLES), and direction by John Caird.

DADDY LONG LEGS tells the extraordinary tale of Jerusha Abbott (McGinnis), the oldest orphan in the John Grier Home. One day, a rich, anonymous benefactor (Nolan) decides to send her to college, but she must write him a letter once a month. Unaware of his identity, she invents a nickname for him: Daddy Long Legs. Through her brilliant and witty letters, Jerusha shares her experiences of college while discovering her own identity and reveling in the wonders of literature, adventure and love. But one key fact eludes her - who is Daddy Long Legs?

DADDY LONG LEGS premiered at the Rubicon Theatre Company in 2009, and has had acclaimed productions throughout the United States as well as international productions in Canada, Tokyo and London's West End. The show was originally produced by a consortium that includes the Rubicon Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and TheatreWorks Palo Alto, The Gem Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, and David Elzer. Megan McGinnis originated the role of Jerusha at the Rubicon Theatre Company and has received the 2010 Los Angeles Ovation Award, an Indy Award (West Coast) and the Acclaim Award (Cincinnati) for her role in Daddy Long Legs.

DADDY LONG LEGS features scenic 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 byBrad Haak (An American in Paris). Daddy Long Legs is produced by Michael Jackowitz and Ken Davenport. Additional producers include Hunter Arnold, Peg McFeeley Golden, Tres Rosas, Ben Bailey, David Bryant, Caiola Productions, Carl Daikeler, Jeffrey Grove, Marguerite Hoffman and Associate Producer, Kayla Greenspan.

Tickets for Daddy Long Legs are on sale now at or by calling at (212) 239-6222.

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From This Author Michael Dale

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