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Interview: Megan McGinnis Is Coming Home At Last with DADDY LONG LEGS

Megan McGinnis is heading back to the New York stage, starring alongside Paul Alexander Nolan in John Caird and Paul Gordon's musical adaptation of DADDY LONG LEGS. Based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster, 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?

McGinnis returns to the role after leading the premiere at the Rubicon Theatre Company in 2009, and subsequent productions around the country. She received the 2010 Los Angeles Ovation Award, an Indy Award (West Coast) and the Acclaim Award (Cincinnati), for her role in the musical.

Now as she prepares to return to the role years after creating it, she is checking in with BroadwayWorld to chat about the upcoming production. Check out the full interview below!

You have such a history with the show. Can you tell me more about how you became involved?

Yes, actually I started officially with the show in 2009, but my history with it goes back even further. I met Paul Gordon and John Caird when I auditioned for Jane Eyre many years ago. Then a few years later I met Paul again socially through a couple of friends. We had lunch at the Grove in LA and when we left he said, "I think you'd like this." He gave me a CD of demos from Daddy Long Legs. He never said that he thought I should play the part, just that I might like it. I listened to that CD over and over and over again. Jane Patterson was singing Jerusha- I fell in love with her and I fell in love with Jerusha's story.

Years go by and I read about the auditions and think, "Oh my gosh. I want to go in and just to sing these songs once." So I went in and the next day I got the offer. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to fall in love with it so many years before and then get to do it! The original run was three theatres over a period of six months, but we had breaks inbetween. Our first run was at the Rubicon in Ventura, then we had a one-week workshop at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, then we came back a month later for a full run at TheatreWorks, then met up again for a couple of days at Cincinnati Playhouse for another workshop, then had a full run in Cincinnati. It was such a gift to have the opportunity to meet after reach run and be able to discuss what was working and what wasn't. We managed to do that before every run that we had. We got to play atleast twelve theatres! It was such a luxury. Usually you get AN out-of-town tryout and then move to New York.

When do rehearsals start up again?

I'm still doing a show at Theatre Works. I'm doing a new musical there right now called Triangle. So I finish that on Sunday and then I'll join my husband for a couple of weeks while he's touring in Kinky Boots. We start August 20th with rehearsals. I actually haven't even met Paul [Nolan] yet!

Are you excited to be working with him?

Oh, I'm ecstatic! He is so wonderful- I've been such a fan of his. We started exchanging emails and texting recently, so I look so forward to getting to know him!

Do you know of any changes that have been made to the show for the New York run?

I think it remains to be seen what changes we are gonna keep. The last time that we did the show was over a year ago. The show sits with you, you know? You keep thinking about things like, "Oh, wouldn't it be great if we got the chance to work on this?" So Paul Gordon wrote a musical version of Sense and Sensibility that I just did at Chicago Shakespeare. We recorded an album and he came back for that. So we were sitting in the lobby and he was talking about how he wanted to write a new song. He played it for me and it was brilliant, of course. So I said, "Oh, Paul I'm so excited about that. You know, I really wish you could write a new song [from Daddy Long Legs]" We call it CBD, which is an acronym for 'could do better'. He and John would always use that phrase in rehearsal, like "Oh that lyric is good. I think it might be a CDB." [Laughs] Like, "For now it's great, but we're smarter than that."

So Paul was like, "Oh, you don't like that song?" And I said, "Oh no, I do like it. I just think it's a CDB." It's the best thing about Paul and John both. There is no ego. He wrote a new song in two days! He sent it me after we left Chicago and it's beautiful. I'm just so excited that all I had to say was, "Hey, remember when we talked about that and never got around to it." And now there's a new song! So there will be some changes for sure, but I think we want to wait until all of us get into the room and see what we like better.

Tell me more about your character.

Jerusha is my most favorite character I've ever played because she's human. She wants so much throughout the show. You get to se her over a four-year period and watch her grow. She's so optimistic and yet you still see her work at being that way. That's a great lesson, certainly for me every night. I've played someone like Beth in Little Women, who is just so perfect in her way. There is nothing wrong with her. That's also fun to play, but getting to play someone who you can relate to so much is really enjoyable. She is also extremely ahead of her time. She is very much based on Jean Webster, who wrote the book. It's about her and her time at Vassar. A woman in the early 1900s going to college, and her ideas about social reform and women's rights... I love that part of the story too.

You've been doing projects all over the place lately- Chicago, California... are you excited to be coming back to New York?

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. I mean, it's always the dream to be at home and working. I always said that I would love to do this show and be able to sleep in my own bed at night! I'm also so excited because I've been sharing this story with friends in New York from afar and now they get to come see it!

It's a full-circle moment!

It was always sort of in the back of my mind that maybe someday we would bring it to New York, but I try not to think about that too much. The journey itself has been so fulfilling over the last five years that this is just icing in the cake.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about in the upcoming run?

You mean other than sleeping in my own bed? [Laughs] I'm so excited about the changes. I think that the creative process is the most fun- to get to try to make the 'perfect show.' And we've been working so hard these five years to make it perfect. I can't wait to fulfill that part of it. I'm so excited to work with Paul and to be back in the New York theatre scene. I think this show is so beautiful. The script is so detailed and witty and the score is so gorgeous. I feel like New York audiences will really appreciate it!

DADDY LONG LEGS begins previews on September 10, 2015, and will officially open September 28, 2015 at the Davenport Theatre (354 West 45th Street). Daddy Long Legs plays a strictly limited engagement through January 10, 2016. Tickets for DADDY LONG LEGS are on sale now at or by calling at (212) 239-6222.

McGinnis' Broadway credits include: Side Show (standby Daisy/Violet), LES MISERABLES (Eponine), Little Women (Beth), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Parade, and The Diary of Anne Frank. London: Daddy Long Legs. National Tours: The Sound of Music, James Joyce's The Dead, and Fiddler on the Roof. Her regional credits include work with The MUNY, Sacramento Music Circus, TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, The Rubicon, The Lyric in Oklahoma City, and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Film and television credits include A Goofy Movie and Anywhere But Here, "Blossom" (NBC), "Wings" (NBC), and "Sister, Sister" (ABC). Megan can be heard on the original cast recordings of Daddy LongLegs, Little Women, Parade, and Sutton Foster's album Wish, singing the duet "Flight." BA in English from Columbia University in New York.

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