Thursday, 6 December 2012

REVIEW | Daddy Long Legs | St. James Theatre

 It just goes to show how important branding is to any production whether it be TV, film or theatre when you glance at a leaflet, a poster or an ad online and immediately make a judgement. A judgement which results in you totally ignoring it.

I had disregarded Daddy Long Legs, a musical, for three reasons; the theatre was too small to do a musical justice, the branding made the show look like a modern comedy that was bound to disappoint and the title conjured images of an ensemble cast prancing about the stage in a strained attempt to be ‘edgy’.


Daddy Long Legs is an absolutely stunning, charming and beautiful production wonderfully  put together through use of lyrical wit and astounding simplicity. Our two protagonists are brought to life with a subtle humanity and delicacy that draws you in from the off, and the performances of Megan McGinnis and Robert Adelman Hancock are so touching and real you forget you’re watching a musical (which is curious given they are singing throughout). 

The theatre I thought would be too small (the newly refurbished St James Theatre in Victoria) was perfect for the intimate setting the director obviously wanted to present and the title was actually spot on for the narrative and couldn’t have been any more fitting.

With a fantastic story by John Caird which tells the tale of an orphan who is sponsored by a mysterious benefactor to attend college and become more than she would be otherwise, and a gentle, uplifting score by Paul Gordon (who also wrote the painfully emotive lyrics) the production flowed by effortlessly with an audience gripped throughout.

For the sake of balance I feel obliged to point out the tiny niggles of the show; the set, although excellent, could have been used a little more rather than a backdrop to the entire show. The use of trunks on set was clever but sometimes detracted from the songs being sung in the background. The music had an air of Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years), sometimes verging on being a tad derivative. And lastly Megan McGinnis’ singing voice was more consistently flawless than Robert Adelman Hancock's, HOWEVER I need to point out that these anal observations were so slight that I feel guilty for even mentioning them.

In essence this is the kind of show the West End would be stupid not to drag kicking and screaming to a central theatre (not that the St. James Theatre wasn’t a great venue, but it deserves a longer run) with the right promotion to show that London can still rival Broadway in its selection of quality, top notch productions. 

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