“Daddy Long Legs” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ January 9, 2012


Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

“Daddy Long Legs” is a charming, refreshingly honest, genuinely romantic little musical that’s making its local premiere at the Herberger Theater Center in a lovely and touching Arizona Theatre Company production.  If a simple musical about a slowly evolving romance warms you, “Daddy Long Legs” is for you.

In it, orphan Jerusha Abbot is singled out for her outstanding educational accomplishments by wealthy Jervis Pendleton who decides to pay for Jerusha’s college with no strings except that she must write him regularly about her educational endeavors but she won’t receive any return notes.  And since this charming tale is based on the adored Jean Webster novel set in New England during the early 20th century, there aren’t any bizarre sexual entanglements associated with Jervis’ generosity.  Of course, a touching romance evolves naturally and, even though you know early on that the pair will end up together, the journey to the inevitable is so endearing that you’ll be entranced by the pair’s meeting, wooing, and infatuation.

The novel has been lovingly adapted and winningly staged by famous musical theater director/creator John Caird who brought us such theatrical winners as “Les Miserables,” “Nicholas Nickleby,” and other stellar theatrical achievements.  The heart-tugging story is enhanced by Paul Gordon’s superb score that is filled with appealingly melodious songs.  Caird’s revealingly intimate staging is enhanced by a cast of show veterans who created these roles in earlier productions.  Musical director Laura Bergquist conducted a seven-piece ensemble that delivers the score with beguiling warmth.

Taking center stage are Megan McGinnis who shines as the unsophisticated but quick-learning Jerusha, and Robert Adelman Hancock who brings a debonair passion but lustily romantic flair to Jervis.  The two sing with emotional candor as they evolve into this naïve couple who discover life’s joys and what love brings to a true relationship.  The pair’s earnest acting is so genuine that you will be captivated by the pair’s evolving romance. 

You won’t find lushly romantic little shows like “Daddy Long Legs” in today’s often hard-edged theater world that often looks askance at relationships.  As you leave “Daddy Long Legs,” you’ll again believe in pairings that evolve slowly and without the clutter of the many complicating issues that cloud romantic liaisons today.

After a rather shaky start this season, with two less than winning productions, “Sherlock Holmes and The Adventure of the Suicide Club” and “God of Carnage,” it’s nice to have Arizona Theatre Company again delivering superb theater.  “Daddy Long Legs” continues through January 15.  For tickets, call the Arizona Theater Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order tickets online at www.arizonatheatre.org.


Grade: A