It’s always a struggle to see the more interesting shows in New York. It’s hard getting to New York. It’s hard getting tickets. I’ve had to put seeing Hamilton on the back burner.
Another production that has recently caught my attention has been Daddy Long Legs, a two-person musical currently running off-Broadway. I had resigned myself to the show closing before I could get back to New York. But last Thursday the musical was livestreamed. I was able to watch it through a laptop.
Based on Jean Webster’s 1912 novel of the same name, Daddy Long Legs features Megan McGinniss as the articulate orphan Jerusha Abbott, and her real-life husband, Adam Halpin, as the tall benefactor who finances her college education. With her fine acting and first-rate voice, Ms. McGinniss would be a star on any stage. Yet Mr. Halpin is able to hold this stage with her. His boyish shyness provides a healthy foil to her proto-feminist moxy.
The creative team, consisting of librettist-director John Caird and composer-lyricist Paul Gordon, is equally as impressive. John Caird (Nicholas Nickleby, Les Miserables) is no stranger mixing the new with the old, and much of Webster’s charming old story is retold through Gordon’s contemporary pop-style songs. The two characters, while falling in love with each other, are also interested in such matters as feminism and socialism.
With its heretofore quiet success, this musical shows some wiser paths that can be taken for the creation of musicals. In an age where producers are insisting that musicals be based on films, this adaptation shows that novels often have more depth and substance. It also shows, like Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, that a musical need not be of blockbuster proportions.
This was the first New York musical to be livestreamed. Livestreaming is, almost by definition, a mixed bag. As I watched Daddy Long Legs in the comfort of my living room, it seemed a bit bizarre not to be applauding after the often catchy songs. Yet livestreaming gives people across the world access to plays and musicals they would not otherwise be able to see.
The theatre continues to evolve.