As we move into our second year of theatre closures, previously filmed shows are crawling out of the darkness to make their way online and give us some much needed joy as we continue this theatre drought. In comes Boulevard Productions version of Daddy Long Legs which is thankfully more welcome than the insect visitors it shares a name with.
Filmed in Smock Alley, Dublin during its run there in 2018, Daddy Long Legs is a musical adaptation based on the classic novel from Jen Webster that also inspired the 1955 classic movie starring Fred Astaire.
The story focuses on Jerusha Abbott, rhe self-proclaimed "Oldest orphan in the John Grier Home" who has her world completely changed when a mysterious benefactor pays to send her to college so she can be educated and become a writer. While the man chooses to keep his identity secret, Jerusha gives him the nickname "Daddy Long Legs". My first thought at the plot was this is like a grown up Annie, but the show deviates from that narrative fairly quickly.
An intimate show featuring just two actors who remain on stage the whole time and rarely interact with eachother, Daddy Long Legs could be likened to The Last Five Years in that respect. The content is completely different however. With the majority of the narrative being the regular letters Jerusha writes to Daddy Long Legs, the show has a danger of becoming stale or repetitive if not executed correctly. Luckily, this production never comes close to being anything less than utterly captivating.
A simple stage houses the setting perfectly, with Daddy and Jerusha writing their letters to each other from their own sides, with beautiful lighting and great costume design. The songs may not be recognisable but they come with an instant sense of familiarity, like you have heard them before - a testament to their strength. So often in shows like this, the songs fail to match the plot or the dialogue. However that is not a problem for Daddy Long Legs - whether the characters are speaking or singing, the show is never dull and always fascinating.
There is more to the relationship between the two than meets the eye and as we learn more about the mysterious benefactor, the tone of the story and their relationship completely changes. The show not being exactly as it appears on paper is one of the things that keeps it interesting with the payoff every bit as satisfying as you would hope.
Daddy Long Legs took me by surprise (as so many of the creepy crawlies have done in the past). It is not a show I had heard of before so went in to this completely blind. One of my favourite things in musical theatre is discovering a show I haven't seen before that I completely fall in love with, and this did just that. Ticking all the boxes, Daddy Long Legs was a marvel to watch. A sweet and charming story beautifully acted, catch this while you can.
Daddy Long Legs is available to stream until Sunday 14th March from https://www.stream.theatre/season/32