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FLASH FRIDAY: LOVE FROM JUDY, The First DADDY LONG LEGS Musical

FLASH FRIDAY: LOVE FROM JUDY, The First DADDY LONG LEGS Musical

Modern technology and good old fashioned live theatre combined to make history last night, as Paul Gordon and John Caird's Daddy Long Legs became the first ever Broadway or Off-Broadway production to have a live performance broadcast online to the world for free.

Audiences watched the husband and wife pairing of Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin in an intimate two-person musical based on Jean Webster's novel of an orphaned teenager and the mysterious benefactor who sees her talent for writing and finances her college education.

While many viewers might have been aware of the 1955 film adaptation of Daddy Long Legs starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron, somewhat lost in musical theatre history is the hit 1952 West End musical version of the novel, which never crossed over to Broadway.

LOVE FROM JUDY was the name given to the more traditional big musical comedy with a score by Hugh Martin (music) and Timothy Gray ((lyrics, and co-authorship of the book with Eric Maschwitz). Jean Carson was such a smash as Judy that she was offered (and turned down!) the role of Eliza Doolittle in the London premiere of MY FAIR LADY, and Cotton Club favorite Adelaide Hall was embraced by West End audiences in a supporting role.

LOVE FROM JUDY's opening scene strikingly resembles the opening of ANNIE, which would hit Broadway 25 years later. The titular Judy is a spunky, strong-willed 18-year-old resident of a New Orleans girls orphanage, complete with a mean supervisor ("If I had my way the whole race of orphans would be wiped off the face of the earth!") and a young trustee (named Grace!) who takes her under her wing. Though Judy has romantic fantasies (the lovely ballad "I Never Dream When I'm Asleep" establishes her character as effectively as ANNIE's"Maybe"), she's also a bit of a trouble-maker, and teaches her buddies the tongue-in-cheek anthem of their own hard knock life, "It's Great To Be An Orphan" ("We're rowdy/We're rotten/Because we're all forgotten").

No hit songs came from the show, but the score is nonetheless an enjoyable mix of light ballads, genuinely funny comedy songs and even a bit of blues and operetta, often reminiscent of the glory days of MGM musicals. In "Dumb, Dumb, Dumb" a pretty blonde co-ed proves she has brains by quoting complex mathematical equations. And Gray proves he has skill by managing to rhyme them. While Rodgers and Hammerstein might provide a clam bake or a box social as a substitute for sexual hi-jinx, the healthy young college students in LOVE FROM JUDY let off steam with a musical husking bee, where if a boy shucks a red ear of corn he can kiss any girl he likes.

A sampling of the score can be heard in this medley recorded by Sally Ann Howes and David Hughes.

DADDY LONG LEGS continues its open-ended run at the Davenport Theatre (354 West 45th Street), featuring 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.

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 cheering: Daddy Long Legs has "echoes of She Loves Me and top-notch performances" and "is one of the most enthralling, entertaining and moving love stories on the American musical theater stage."

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 (Halpin) 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). Executive producers for Daddy Long Legs are 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.

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From This Author Michael Dale

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