BWW Review: Theatre Raleigh's Sweet, Heartfelt DADDY LONG LEGS Transports Audience to a Simpler Time
Dear Daddy Long Legs,
If it is the secret of happiness you seek, you might look no further than The Kennedy Theatre in Downtown Raleigh where Theatre Raleigh's production of Daddy Long Legs is playing.
Based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster, the two-actor musical is the coming-of-age story of Jerusha Abbott, the oldest orphan in The John Grier Home. Jerusha's life is forever changed when a mysterious unknown benefactor, who calls himself Mr. Smith, decides to send her to college. His nine-point plan "for the further education of Jerusha Abbott" includes she write him one letter every month, which he will not read nor respond to. Over the next four years, Jerusha finds her spirit, voice, happiness, and love in the arms of Jervis Pendleton, who may have a secret of his own.
Making her directorial debut, Megan McGinnis brings a wealth of experience to this production, having originated the role of Jerusha Abbott in 2009 at The Rubicon Theatre in California and reprised the role in the West End premiere in 2012 and the off-Broadway production in 2015. McGinnis' minimalist and skillful staging against Chris Bernier's elegant set, easily transports the audience to a simpler time, which is a refreshing contrast to big budget, high-tech productions that rely on flash and special effects to tell a story. And this show is all about the story, which is told mostly through letters, and the development of both characters.
Paul Gordon's melodious score is sung beautifully by Max Chernin and Hilary Maiberger. Maiberger is perfectly cast as the wide-eyed optimist Jerusha, and Max Chernin's portrayal of Jervis is steadfast and resolute.
Daddy Long Legs is a sweet, heartfelt love story in the spirit of Miklós László's 1937 play Parfumerie, which inspired the movies The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail. And who knows, perhaps Theatre Raleigh's production may even inspire you to pen a love letter of your own.
Yours most respectfully,
Lauren Van Hemert
Daddy Long Legs runs through May 27th at The Kennedy Theatre at The Duke Center for the Performing Arts. Check out the YouTube video below for a sneak peak. For more information, visit theatreraleigh.com.
Photo by Jennifer Gordon Robertson