Daddy Long Legs at Barn Theatre Cirencester

‘Threatens to sound better than the original’: DADDY LONG LEGS – Cirencester ★★★★★

In Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Sophie GarrodLeave a Comment

Barn Theatre, Cirencester – until 2 November 2019

On a wet, dark and cold Friday evening in Cirencester, the beautiful Daddy Long Legs musical played at the Barn Theatre. Based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster and with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, this quaint tale depicts our leading lady Jerusha Abbott being mysteriously funded for her education by the wealthy Jervis Pendleton. These two characters are the only ones we see in the show, and through their correspondence through letters and some slight deceit, the pair’s lives become more intertwined and the show ends on a long-awaited kiss.

I had heard the soundtrack to this show in the past, and it has to be said that the best thing about this production was the music. The score is beautifully written, with underlying tones that repeat themselves in numerous songs throughout, and there are definitely some earworms in there too.

I often find that when I listen to a soundtrack too much, the real production never lives up to it, but both Rebecca Jayne-Davies and Ryan Bennett do an absolutely incredible job. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a live show before where the actors sound the same quality, if not better than the original. I was truly blown away by the beautiful score and soft yet powerful vocals.

Jayne-Davies as leading lady Jerusha is beyond perfectly cast. Her presentation is the perfect balance of perky, at times ever so slightly irritating, but she pulls it back with enough of an endearing nature for you not to find her that bit too annoying. She is stubborn, strong willed, humorous with impeccable comedy timing and wit, and the perfect Jerusha. I really enjoyed every aspect of her performance.

Equally, Bennet as rich Jervis Pendleton does a brilliant job at winning the audience over. From some seriously intense numbers to some really humorous moments, Bennett has the character down to a T.

Both of our actors do a brilliant job at playing with the other on stage whilst at the same time ignoring the other completely. As the two characters only communicate through Jerusha’s letters to Jervis, and none reciprocated, this relationship is hard to build, yet the two do a great job of intertwining in and out of each other’s lives.

Special mention has to be given to Gregory Donelly, Mike
Leopold and Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner as set designer, set builder and lighting
designer respectively. The set was simple, yet effective, with books taking up
the majority of stage right, and letters beautifully dottered in the background
and on the ceiling. The way each letter lit up at the back of the stage when it
was being read really took my breath away and contributed to making this quaint
show so beautiful.

Ryan Bennett, Rebecca Jayne-Davis, Alex Crawford, Charlie Ingles and Rosalind Ford in Daddy Long Legs

The musicians also had some lovely interactions with the
main characters as they were situated on stage. Pianist Charlie Ingles,
cellist Rosalind Ford and guitarist Alex Crawford all contribute
to a great show.

It has to be said that the plot is quite simplistic. With
just two main characters and a deceit taking hold, it does run parallels with
other musicals in the 1900s such as Top Hat – a simple show that delights
nonetheless. There were, however, times when I wondered where the story was really
going, and the middle part of the show dragged a little. Because I was familiar
with the music and the story beforehand, this didn’t bother me so much because
I knew the direction in which it was heading, but I could certainly understand
why others may find it taking its slow time to get anywhere.

Rebecca Jayne-Davis and Ryan Bennett in Daddy Long Legs

That being said, every aspect of the show really comes together to make it an enjoyable one. With direction from Kirstie Davis, the music, choreography, design and talent all coincide for a great production.

Daddy Long Legs plays at the Barn Theatre until 2 November 2019.

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Sophie Garrod on InstagramSophie Garrod on RssSophie Garrod on Twitter
Sophie Garrod
Sophie Garrod has loved the theatre since a very young age and always loved to write. Whilst studying journalism, media and cultural studies at Cardiff University, she set up her One Woman West End Show website. She also now works at a theatre, so has insights into how theatres operate and how shows are produced. She writes reviews, as well as opinion pieces that are light-hearted and those that tackle more serious issues such as disability and race in theatre.
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Sophie Garrod on InstagramSophie Garrod on RssSophie Garrod on Twitter
Sophie Garrod
Sophie Garrod has loved the theatre since a very young age and always loved to write. Whilst studying journalism, media and cultural studies at Cardiff University, she set up her One Woman West End Show website. She also now works at a theatre, so has insights into how theatres operate and how shows are produced. She writes reviews, as well as opinion pieces that are light-hearted and those that tackle more serious issues such as disability and race in theatre.

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