“Daddy Long Legs” is a very special musical that tells its story in a simple and highly personal fashion. It is somewhat atypical of the kind of musicals you are probably used to seeing. This production is just a two character play. It’s concise, imaginative storytelling approach serves to drive home the broad heart of the effort.
Ephie Aardema appears in the role of Jerusha, and 18-year-old girl who has spent her life in an orphange and knows nothing of her parents. In fact, she refers to herself as the “Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home.” By chance, a mysterious benefactor pays a visit one day to the orphanage and after spotting Ephie, decides to send her to college in hopes she will become a writer. The stranger pays for everything. The only stipulation is that Ephie write him a letter every month with an overview of her progress as both a student and a writer. She only caught a brief glimpse of the man when he visited the orphanage, so Ephie gives him the nickname of Daddy Long Legs.
Kevin Early is Jervis Pendelton, the uncle of one of Ephie’s wealthy classmates who opens Ephie’s mind to a broader scope of culture and the world. And obviously, he is also Ephie’s benefactor. Ephie never concludes this since she envisions Daddy Long Legs as an elderly man with practically no hair.
As Ephie evolves as both a student and a woman, the affinity between her and Daddy slowly deepens. In this fanciful work, we are treated to an old-fashioned story of love totally void of “modern” concepts, but so intrinsically felt that it almost sweeps you off your feet.
“Daddy Long Legs” has a busy selection of songs over its two acts that propels the story and tenderly illuminates the feelings of the two principals. An orchestra of six pieces attends the score. There is no 11 o’clock number in this musical, but there is a wealth of feeling and expression that comes across elegantly through the musical numbers. The staging is rich, with a touch of cleverness. The end result of a visit to “Daddy Long Legs” is an immersion into a blossoming affection, the likes of which you most likely have never felt before. Like Ephie, you’ll fall in love with “Daddy Long Legs.”