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BWW Review: Hale Centre Theatre's DADDY LONG LEGS Tugs at the Heartstrings

DADDY LONG LEGS plays through June 12, 2021.

BWW Review: Hale Centre Theatre's DADDY LONG LEGS Tugs at the Heartstrings

DADDY LONG LEGS on Hale Centre Theatre's Jewel Box Stage tugs at the heartstrings with its plucky heroine, touching music, and sweet love story.

DADDY LONG LEGS (music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, book by John Caird) is a recent off-Broadway success adapted from a 1912 novel. Orphan Jerusha Abbott learns that her schooling is to be paid for by a wealthy benefactor, who she affectionately calls "Daddy Long Legs" and converses with through witty, soul-baring letters. When she meets her schoolmate's dashing uncle, Jervis Pendleton, she is unaware that he is actually the man to whom she has been writing.

The score is stunningly beautiful, and the book is captivating. The two-person show is entrancing from beginning to end.

Scout Smith as Jerusha (double cast with Kelly Coombs) is warm and vivacious with a lovely soprano that reaches into the soul, bringing the audience along with her on her journey of self-discovery.

Taylor Morris' polished performance as Jervis Pendleton (double cast with David Paul Smith) is one of sincerity and introspection peppered with full-throated abandon.

All four members of the cast with the exception of Morris are reprising their roles from Hale Center Theater Orem's 2018 production of the show. As the two theatres are not affiliated, it's an interesting turn of events that likely allowed for less rehearsal time.

Director/choreographer Jennifer Hill Barlow has created a world where the impossible is possible. Never static, it is perpetually moving and flowing as Jerusha and Jervis became one through their correspondence. This constant interaction especially helps the audience better imagine the times that the two see each other in person over the years. The trade-off, though, is that the pay-off in the final scene is perhaps less impactful than it may have been.

The multi-tiered set designed by Madeline Ashton wonderfully enables this movement and provides a plethora of possibilities for the songs and scenes to unfold. It includes an elegant study for Jervis, is sprinkled with whimsical trunks for Michelle Jensen's carefully selected props, and centers around a fanciful green-carpeted conveyor belt that moves elements on and offstage with ease. The idea was to create a space that could be either interior or exterior. However, because most scenes in fact take place inside, the sense of location is often muddled and lost in an over-abundance of large flower arrangements.

The subtle lighting design by Marianne Ohran and period costumes by Peggy Willis complement the staging and serve well the purpose of indicating the characters' individual growth and increased draw to one another.

The live music by music director Kelly DeHaan on piano (alternating with Tanner DeHaan), Josh Ogden on cello (alternating with Nicole Pinnell), and Bryan Matthew Hague on guitar is beautifully performed.

The music, characters, and story of DADDY LONG LEGS creep up on the audience and unexpectedly wash over them like nothing else. If you've never seen this lovely little show, it's a joy to experience and one that you simply cannot miss.

The theatre is complying with all state and local government mandates for gatherings including a strict requirement for all audience members to be masked at all times. Other policies include rigorous testing and screening for actors and other employees, contact tracing, hand sanitizing stations and frequent disinfecting of surfaces, social distancing markers, and no paper programs or concessions. The theatre's COVID-19 Safety Guide can be found at www.hct.org.

DADDY LONG LEGS plays through June 12, 2021. For tickets, call the box office at 801-984-9000 or visit www.hct.org.

Photo Credit: Hale Centre Theatre.


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