DADDY LONG LEGS
Book by John Caird, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon
Directed by Rick Estes
Musical Direction by Scott Eckert
Scenic Design by Randel Wright
Lighting Design by Julie Simmons
Jerusha Abbott- Samantha McHenry
Jervis Pendleton- Christopher J. Deaton
Reviewed Performance: 1/19/2018
Reviewed by John Garcia, Senior Chief Critic/Editor/Founder for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN
Randel Wright’s scenic design is quite interesting. For Jerusha Abbott he has a raked stage with large wooden window panes hanging from the fly rails. For Jervis Pendleton Wright has step units that are sharp in triangles leading up to a beautiful library covered in tasteful bric-n-brac. Behind this is a massive towering bookcase.
Paul Gordon’s score is an eclectic collection of songs, mostly ballads. There is a faint hint of Sondheim in a couple of the songs. But there is soft pop, modern Broadway ballad, and even country. The score could use some editing in both acts, especially in Act One. Nonetheless there are plenty of songs that soared into the gold covered ceilings of the Majestic theater. Including Who Is This Man, She Thinks I’m Old, Things I Didn’t Know, The Color of Your Eyes, The Man I’ll Never Be, All This Time, and Charity.
Samantha McHenry and Christopher J. Deaton deliver resplendent performances. Both display not a hint of modernism behavior. Their body posture, diction, and mannerisms stay firmly in 1912. Their arc to their chemistry is extremely believable that just fills your heart. Both actors focus on each other’s subtext within the lyrics thus allowing the audience sincerely feels their emotions. Both have luxurious singing voices. Both performers have an armful of solos, plus duets that are sprinkled throughout the evening.
McHenry has a powerful, haunting, and deeply moving monologue in Act Two in which she reveals to her Daddy Long Legs her affections for someone else. McHenry engulfs her heart within her pain that just devastates you. All alone with a lone light shining on her, she holds the audience in the palm of her hands as her eyes well up in tears.
Christopher J. Deaton delivers his best work that I have seen him do in this production. He wears his characterization like a second skin. Deaton also happens to have the best song of the entire night titled Charity. A ballad that has a country flavor, Deaton’s tenor vocals soars and glides within the song with roaring force, then subsiding to a soft falsetto. Just an exquisite solo that became the vocal highlight of the evening.
Daddy Long Legs is an intimate piece of musical theater, which is not the norm for Lyric Stage. But that’s what I so greatly admire and respect about this theater company. They will do a war horse musical, but then do a completely new musical that no one has done in the Metroplex. That is the ONLY way you can make your audiences and season subscribers grow, to show them new, fresh, unique musicals. I never would have seen Daddy Long Legs had Lyric Stage not produced it. Want to stretch your artistic minds? Then I strongly suggest you catch Lyric Stage’s Daddy Long Legs before it closes this Sunday!