Forget love at first sight, “Daddy Long Legs” is a romance that starts with the first letter.
Main Street Theater’s regional premiere of the two-actor musical is as heart-warming as a Hallmark Channel movie. It’s based on a classic novel by Jean Webster that would fit snugly on a bookshelf between “Little Women” and “Jane Eyre.”
Jervis Pendleton (Matt Harris Andersen) is basically a sugar daddy for orphan Jerusha Abbott (Shanae’a Moore). He pays for her college education on the sole condition that she writes him a letter every month. No sex. No letters from him.
Jerusha doesn’t know what her benefactor looks like, his age or even his real name. She nicknames the elusive philanthropist after a spider, and begins her letters with “Dear Daddy Longs Legs.”
I love to see strong female characters on stage and Jerusha Abbott fits the playbill. She seizes the chance to educate herself and build her independence and success. Even with her college experience being over 100 years ago, things like failing a class to looking down on freshmen are still relatable today. Moore acts with very animated facial expressions, making her character a bubbly and perfectly charming young woman.
Both Moore and Andersen have the vocal range and control to belt out the thirty musical numbers in this production. Almost everything in the show is sung.
The story comes with some social commentary that’s still relevant over 100 years later. The song “Mr. Girl Hater” is about how women were expected to only be wives and mothers instead of also using their talents. The scores “Things I Didn’t Know” and “Like Other Girls” touch on the social marginalization of the poor.
I fell in love with “Daddy Long Legs.” I teared up a little during the show, and the tunes have been stuck in my head. Overall, it’s an enjoyable romantic musical that’s worth seeing.
“Daddy Long Legs” is playing until June 17, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. On Wednesday night shows, understudies Annie Wild and Jonathan Teverbaugh are performing. At Main Street Theater, student tickets are $10 in advance or at the door. University faculty and staff can receive 25 percent off when they use the promo code “TEACHER” and purchase tickets in advance. After-parties follow every Saturday evening performance and are included with the ticket purchase.