BWW Review: TheatreWorks Revives an Excellent DADDY LONG LEGS
Like many, I was introduced to the charms of Daddy Long Legs when the show recently became the first Off-Broadway production to stream a performance live on the Internet. Bay Area audiences may have an advantage on the rest of the world, though, as the show had its origins at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. The company is no stranger to Paul Gordon musicals, having given us an excellent revival of Emma as recent as last December. But Daddy Long Legs is perhaps the most fully realized of Gordon's works, exhibiting both his propensity for story-driven songs and some of his most exquisite ballads and duets.
The heart-felt musical receives an intimate revival at TheatreWorks now through December 31. Based on Jean Webster's 1912 novel, Daddy Long Legs consists mostly of orphan Jerusha Abbott's letters to the anonymous sponsor of her college education. While she imagines him old and possibly bald, Jervis Pendleton is actually just above her in age and rather handsome. The rich bachelor decides he must meet this spirited woman, but disguises his role as benefactor and instead visits as the cousin of one of Jerusha's college friends.
Their romance is at once naïve and endearing. Derek Carley sports a sweet smile and lovely voice in a superb performance as Jervis. But the show belongs to Jerusha, an exceptionally written character. Her journey to adulthood becomes the center of our world, and a compelling performance from Hilary Maiberger captivates from start to finish. Maiberger's voice blends beautifully with the chamber orchestra, which features a piano, cello and guitar. The haunting melodies stay with us, and in the same way, these two remarkable characters give us a warm glow during the holiday season.
DADDY LONG LEGS
Through December 31
Presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto