Quote of the Day: She has a brain, that’s what matters. A brain, and a wit, and a fearless turn of phrase. This girl deserves her chance. Jervis Pendleton in Daddy Long Legs, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Book by John Caird, based on the novel by Jean Webster. 

Minneapolis Musical Theatre, whose tagline is :Rare Musicals, Well Done, has produced another fantastic show called Daddy Long Legs, directed by Amanda Weis. They have crossed the river and are performing it at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, a truly gorgeous setting for this intimate musical about love, aspirations, identity, and connections. I spent the evening falling in love, with the characters, the story, and the setting. 

Chris Paulson as Jervis and Maddie Olsem as Jerusha in MMT’s production of Daddy Long Legs. Photo Credit: www.Theater.photos Christian Unser

Maddie Olsem is absolutely darling as Jerusha Abbott, an orphan girl who wins a chance at a college education through her writing. She sings divinely and her expressions and actions feel genuine. I was rooting for her from the first note. Her benefactor is Jervis Pendleton, played by the charming Chris Paulson. She doesn’t meet him in person, and he uses a fake name. In fact, she only saw a silhouette of him, so dubs him “Daddy Long Legs.” He asks her to write letters, and she carries that even further, turning her letters into a personal journey of her college years, friendships, fears, longings, successes, and love. She thinks he’s a kind, old man and uses her letters to him as listening ear. He falls in love with her words. (Be still, my writer heart.) 

Chris Paulson as Jervis and Maddie Olsem as Jerusha in MMT’s production of Daddy Long Legs. Photo Credit: www.Theater.photos Christian Unser

The musical is based on the epistolary novel by the same name by Jean Webster, published in 1912. There is a 1955 film version of it, starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron, which I now want to check out! The creators of the musical keep the letter writing theme, and the two characters sing about their lives and letters, sometimes coming in together, as one is writing and the other reading the words. The show is filled with lovely melodies, lyrics, and sentiment. The songs help tell the story. Since only two actors perform the entire show, they are on nearly all the time. They must be exhausted by the end of a show, and their vocal chords in need of rest. Both Olsem and Paulson carry it off beautifully. Both actors are expressive, and in this type of intimate setting, we can see every facial expression and subtle emotion. They are accompanied by a live orchestra, set on the landing of the grand staircase of the foyer of the Hill House, where the action takes place. Music direction by Jean Orbison Van Heel on keyboards, Karin Kimble and Kirsten Slyter on Cello and violin, and Joshua Shaffer on guitar. Their music was gorgeous. All the timings were spot on, and the singers’ voices blended beautifully. Costumes, by A. Emily Heaney, were period appropriate and helped establish character and setting. Sound Design by Abe Gabor, and Lighting by Grace Barnstead. 

Get your tickets, soon, for this sweet musical. It’s a lovely way to spend a cold night in February. The venue is warm (don’t sit too near the lights), and charming. I wish I could go again! Daddy Long Legs by Minneapolis Musical Theatre runs through February 29, 2020, at the historic James J. Hill House in St. Paul, MN.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever received an unexpected gift? What are the things that you would most like people to notice and admire about you?