Thursday, October 07, 2010

Delightfully Quaint Chamber Musical Gets It Write, By Force of Quill - Theater Review: Daddy Long Legs at Northlight Theatre

Theater Review

Daddy Long Legs
a new musical with music & lyrics by Paul Gordon, book & direction by John Caird
Northlight Theatre, Skokie, IL
Thru October 24, 2010

My Dear Reader,

It is my sincere hope that this letter finds you well and exceptionally buoyant of spirit. While the contrivances of life can periodically seem entirely unkind, altogether the passing days have predominantly been agreeable for yours truly. Or as colloquially expressed by Mr. Joseph Fidler Walsh, he of the Ohio Walshes (and subsequently the Eagles), "I can't complain but sometimes I still do. Life's been good to me so far."

Inspiring my current correspondence is a hearty hankering to enlighten you regarding a positively enchanting piece of musical melodrama entitled "Daddy Long Legs," now being enacted by the Theatre Northlight in the heavenly hamlet beknownst as Skokie.

Although cosmetically quite dissimilar from the multifarious extravagance that was Hugo's "Les Miserables" upon the lighted stage, despite sharing in Mr. John Caird the same directorial mastermind, this intimately co-acted, epistolary chamber musical is likewise engagingly lyrical.

Congruently derived from a classic novel, one originally penned by Miss Jean Webster in 1912 and embodied through numerous manifestations in the intervening decades, the Northlight rendition of Daddy Long Legs was freshly composed rather recently by Mr. Paul Gordon, who previously received a Tony Award nomination for correspondingly having fashioned both music and lyrics for a theatrical enactment of "Jane Eyre."

Photo credit: Jeanne Tanner
The winsome and wonderfully-voiced Ms. Megan McGinnis, well-trod upon the Great White Way--including as Eponine in the aforementioned Les Miz--is disarmingly charming as Miss Jerusha Abbott, an orphan covertly bestowed a collegiate endowment by a shadowy benefactor she designates "Daddy Long Legs" in frequent letters drafted as the sole stipulation of his largesse.

Quite suitably satisfying, albeit secondarily, as the secretive patron and subsequent suitor, is Mr. Robert Adelman Hancock, and one was instinctively engendered to imagine this twosome decorating the same scenery quite superbly in Lerner and Loewe's even more loverly My Fair Lady.

While quite eminently worthwhile, Mssrs. Caird and Gordon's Daddy Long Legs--in which at Northlight Ms. McGinnis reprised the role she had originated, although this show has not heretofore broached Broadway--also reminded of another, superior ode to the archaic art of letter-writing, Mr. Stephen Sondheim's "Passion."

Can you even imagine, my ever-esteemed compatriot, the societal cultivations should today's communicatively expeditious students--or even, self-inclusively, all of our excessively digitized citizenry--be compelled to manually compose expository correspondence on a monthly basis? (WTF?? LOL!!)

Excusing my digression, allow me perchance to reiterate my high regard for this wonderfully quaint piece of theater. Musically I must admit to being uncertain if any of the melodious numbers, however artfully operatic in their storytelling predominance, will remain indelibly-etched in my consciousness. (Although a gentleman in the odeum's foyer was peddling a sound recording seemingly unavailable through the voluminous merchants of Amazon, my frugality precluded it from being afforded.) Yet, as a truly sumptuous evening of exquisite entertainment--or afternoon, for I attended a matinee in the near-exclusive accompaniment of amused octogenarians--Daddy Long Legs is exceedingly deserving of my lavishing upon it this extravagant expression of admirably anachronistic verbosity.

"The greatest thing one can possess is imagination," or so approximately pronounces Jerusha Abbott at one juncture during her education-infused maturation. Entirely in accordance, I am pleased to effusively applaud, and enthusiastically recommend, this delectably cozy & warm new musical that celebrates the art of expression so engagingly. 

Very theatrically yours,

Note: For those who, like me, relish ticket discounts, a limited supply of "$20 Day-Of Tickets" are available for purchase in person at the Northlight Box Office or by phone at 847.673.6300. Details can be found here and this link provides more info on the Daddy Long Legs production.

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