“Daddy Long Legs” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – June 26, 2021


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

After years of reviewing Valley theater, I have seen most local shows previously on Broadway or in London.  So, it is especially refreshing to see a musical here I haven’t seen and know little about.  When that show is the tenderly endearing “Daddy Long Legs,” produced smashingly by The Phoenix Theatre Company, there is little more local theater lovers could cherish.

“Daddy Long Legs” traces the unusual but respectable relationship between rich Jervis Pendleton who uses his money to provide higher education for people who cannot afford such luxuries and an orphan but intellectual powerhouse Jerusha Abbott.  Jervis has always supported the educational goals of young men but he discovers Jerusha because he is a trustee at the orphanage where she has grown up unknowing of her background.  Jervis doesn’t want to meet his benefactors.  He just wants letters from them about their discoveries which he will never answer.

This charming musical confection is loaded with sweet songs, witty dialogue, and clever happenstances, as the pair learn about each other resulting in a welcome if not unexpected conclusion.

Set at the turn-of-the-last-century, the show’s physical look is critical to its success and a wonderfully telling set and charming historic costumes provide further insightful tidbits about the characters and their backgrounds.  Robert Kolby Harper’s staging allows the show to glide along as it touchingly explores this delicate relationship.

What makes this show perfection, though, is the two stellar cast members who bring these complicated characters to a rich and telling life that stimulates audience desire to learn every nuance about these individuals and their unique needs.

The performing pair – Kathlynn Rodin as Jerusha and James D. Gish as Jervis – compliment each other flawlessly.  In individual songs, they bring Paul Gordon’s rich melodies to vibrant life.  In the many duets, the pair soars musically to lovely heights.

Rodin’s Jerusha presents both the character’s unknowing naivety but also shows her character’s deep thinking and overwhelming desire to meet her sponsor.  It’s a glistening and romantic look back at a simpler time but a period when women’s rights were sacrificed while people like Jerusha craved equality.  Gish’s Jervis is also perfection.  He wants more than to use his riches on material things instead wanting his wealth to help individuals know a more expansive life.

While “Daddy Long Legs” did play a local rural theater before, it is hard to imagine this show has ever been as well produced as in this delightful Phoenix Theatre Company staging.  This is a wonderful summer show, romantic but not cloying, touching but not sappy, full of lovely melodies, and brought to life by a director and two performers who richly explore every facet of these characters.

“Daddy Long Legs” continues to July 18.  For tickets, contact The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A

3 Responses to ““Daddy Long Legs” – The Phoenix Theatre Company”

  1. Seth said:

    Jun 28, 21 at 12:24

    Can’t wait to see the show.

  2. Seth said:

    Jun 28, 21 at 12:24

    Can’t wait to see the show.

  3. David Ira said:

    Jul 01, 21 at 11:30


    You reviewed Daddy Long Legs at ATC when we produced it in 2012. (Gave it an A)