The story is formulaic and the music breaks no new ground. So why did we love "Daddy Long Legs" so much?
1) The two leads (Hilary Maiberger as Jerusha and Derek Carley as Jervis) are magnificent, together and apart. Many songs are classic duets, but in others a unique background vocal arrangement brings the two characters together even when their locations are far apart. It is hard to over-emphasize how effective this is.
2) A two person cast can be deadly if the two actors have little chemistry together. This is not a problem with Jerusha and Jervis. But boy do they make us wait for that first kiss.
3) John Caird's book, adapted from the more-than-100-year-old story by Jean Webster, is perfect. Caird is no lightweight, having written the books for Les Miserables and Candide among others, and he is a master of understatement. There is only one moment, in Act Two, when we feel the action drags, and that is probably the fault of the one song in the show that is excessive ("Charity"). The boy is in love. The girl is in love. No time to stop and sing about it. Chop chop.
4) Paul Gordon gives us songs that stick with us, like "The Color of Your Eyes," "The Secret of Happiness" and "Christmas in Manhattan."
But, in the end, it all comes down to beautiful performances by -- (See No. 1).
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
One Star each for acting, writing and music, with another for Fumiko Bielefeldt's perfect period costumes add up to: FOUR STARS!
"Daddy Long Legs"
Lucie Stern Theatre
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through Dec 31