Tony Award-nominated composer-lyricist Paul Gordon ( Jane Eyre) and librettist-director John Caird (a Tony winner for Les Miserables) created the musical, based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster. Gordon and Caird previously collaborated on the Broadway musical Jane Eyre.
Under Caird's direction, Daddy Long Legs had a rolling world premiere (featuring McGinnis and Hancock) at three venues in 2009-10: Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA; TheatreWorks in Mountain View, CA; and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. (McGinnis and Hancock also appeared in nine-performance engagement of Daddy Long Legs June 17-27 at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA.)
The production will be resurrected starting at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL, Sept. 16-Oct. 24. It then heads west.
Broadway's McGinnis (who plays orphan Jerusha Abbott) is known for the purity of her voice in Little Women, Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables. Robert Adelman Hancock (who plays anonymous benefactor Jervis Pendleton) appeared as Sky in a national tour of Mamma Mia!, and has worked regionally from Chicago to Utah.
Here's how the musical is billed: "Jerusha Abbott's prayers seem answered when the generosity of an anonymous gentleman allows her to move from orphanage to university. Through her grateful letters, Jerusha shares her life with her mysterious benefactor as she grows into an intelligent, independent New American Woman and discovers a budding romance with a wealthy young suitor. Yet there is one startling fact that Jerusha has yet to uncover — one that will change her life forever." McGinnis told Playbill.com on July 7, "I can't tell you how much I love this piece. It's a brilliant and beautiful show — so well crafted. And it's an actor's dream; there are only two actors and neither of us ever leave the stage, so everything is seen. We change costumes on stage, we change the set! And every moment of change in these characters is seen by the audience as well."
She added, "Jerusha is the most human character I've ever played. She is fallible and opinionated and real. You watch her develop into this wonderfully strong and independent woman, as she falls in love with knowledge and learning, and also falls in love with a man! It's certainly a journey I don't mind taking every night."
The fall engagements are presented in association with Rubicon Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, TheatreWorks, David Elzer and Michael Jackowitz.
Daddy Long Legs will play La Mirada Theatre in La Mirada, CA, Nov. 5-25, and The Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, CA, Nov. 30-Dec. 26.
Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL. Visit northlight.org.