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Daddy Long Legs Provides Charm and Humor for all for One at ArtsLab

For those who are only familiar with the story of Daddy Long Legs from the 1955 film with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron (and that would include yours truly), the all for One production currently running in the ArtsLab is a revelation. Not that there’s anything wrong with a film starring that particular pair, but as is often the case, the screenplay opens it up, brings in characters only mentioned in passing in the original story and its musical version. The stage version is far more intimate, a tour de force for just two very talented performers.

For those who are not familiar with the film or the story in any adaptation, a wealthy young man decides to anonymously pay for the education of a poor orphan girl, asking only that she correspond with him regularly. That stipulation takes the form of letters, something people used to write quite regularly as it provided the only means for people to keep in touch when miles apart. Really! It was a thing! And long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive for many. (If you don’t believe me, ask your elders.) The letters bring those other characters to life without even being seen, and the audience quickly sees how the emerging relationship between our heroine Jerusha and her “Daddy Long Legs” (the nickname she gives her benefactor since he only provides the moniker John Smith) begins to take root.

The first act allows the story and the characters to emerge slowly, developing all through the correspondence (mostly reported in song). The story is both poignant and funny. One recurring joke is her assumption that Daddy Long Legs is elderly, a misassumption that becomes increasingly funny as the story unfolds. (Ironically, the age difference was a very real plot point in the film as Astaire was more than three decades older than his leading lady.) The cast for opening night were the stars of the show, with Sierra Harber and Scotty Frank more than up to the material presented to them. Their individual voices are beautiful enough, but when they sing in unison it is overwhelming. They each handle the many sweet moments as deftly as they do the many funny ones and bring their growing love for each other to life while directly interacting very little. (The show has also cast understudies, Bekah Guntle and Andrew Bower, should illness become a factor, and that pair will perform the show on Sunday, February 19.)

Although musicals are rare for all for One, when they do one, they do it well. A four-piece orchestra provide a lovely soundtrack to the musical, and the staging, costuming, and lighting are all superb. Deserving of special kudos is director Mary Beth Frank who has brought this special show together so perfectly. For a charming, delightful, romantic, and enjoyable two hours of theatre, visit to snag your tickets this weekend or next. You won’t be sorry.

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