I remember when the musical “Daddy Long Legs” became the first still running show to live-stream a performance. I couldn’t watch probably because I had a rehearsal of my own or something, my memories not that great. When I realized BroadwayHD had the performance in its library (and I’d be stuck home in bed for a few days last month) I signed up for a month to watch it.
“Daddy Long Legs” features real-life husband and wife team Adam Halpin and Meghan McGinnis. Meghan plays Jerusha Abbot, (that name is on par with Obidah Masterson as the worst of all time but at least he had the good sense to nickname himself Sky) the “oldest orphan in the John Greer Home”. Adam plays Jervis Pendleton (not a great name either but it’s definitely no Jerusha) a trustee who anonymously sends her to college with the stipulation that she’ll write monthly with zero expectation of him responding. That’s it. For 2.5 hours it’s literally the 2 of them on stage singing excerpts of letters Jerusha writes and how Jervis begins to realize he has feelings for her, while wrestling with the fact that he’s her patron.
Considering it was the first live-stream of a Broadway show, and remember the technical debacles that plagued BroadwayHD’s “She Loves Me” last year, I must admit I was wary. Maybe because it was such a simple production, or any issues they had have been fixed from its initial airing, but the camera work was flawless.
The plot did move a bit slowly at times. All the physical action basically is talked about but rarely seen. However, I can’t imagine how you would incorporate other characters into the story without losing the dynamics of having only your 2 main characters propelling the story forward from their POV. There were times other characters “spoke” which called for Meghan usually to use a different voice to separate that new person from Jerusha.
It’s unlike most everything done today which helped it largely keep my attention, even during the points the plot slowed a bit. Because the songs are all solos or duets played with a small pit, there’s no soaring chorus harmonies. But that meant my focus during the songs stayed mainly on the lyrics. I could really hear what was being said and how it related to the character and what that character was dealing with at the time.
With only 2 actors, 1 set and a handful of costume changes, it makes for an extremely intimate show. Most community theaters focus on pieces with huge ensembles, but done right this would be a compelling piece. Despite it being set in the early 1900s, there are themes that resonate still today. Who am I? Where do I belong? Can we ever truly know one another?
If you have a BroadwayHD membership I’d recommend a viewing. At least here in New England this weekend’s weather is going to be a bit wet, so it’s a great reason to stay in and watch a new show.