Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

January 11, 2012, 11:26 am
Filed under: Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Daddy Long Legs
A Beautiful and Romantic New Musical

Lowell, MA – MRT is excited to present Daddy Long Legs, a new musical from John Caird, the Tony and Olivier Award-winning director of Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby, and the creators of Jane Eyre. Set in 1912 New England, young Jerusha Abbott is given the opportunity to escape the orphanage she grew up in when an anonymous benefactor spots her potential and pays her way to attend university. As a condition of his generosity, she must write letters updating him on her progress, but he will never respond. What he does not expect is how charming and fascinating her letters will be, making his choice not to write back more difficult than he ever imagined. Daddy Long Legs, directed by John Caird with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, February 9 – March 4, 2012. Subscriptions and individual tickets are available online at or by calling 978-654-4MRT.

Photo by Jeanne Tanner

“One of the most enthralling, entertaining and moving love stories I’ve seen on the American musical theatre stage.” – LA Stage Scene

“A completely winning performance by Megan McGinnis.” – LA Times

The cast of Daddy Long Legs features Megan McGinnis (Jerusha Abbot) who received a Los Angeles Ovation Award for her performance and Robert Adelman Hancock (Jervis Pendleton), both in their MRT debuts. McGinnis and Hancock originated the roles of Jerusha and Jervis in the 2009 World Premiere of Daddy Long Legs at Rubicon Theatre Company. Megan McGinnis has previously appeared on Broadway as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, as well Les Miserables. Both McGinnis and Hancock are featured on the Daddy Long Legs cast album. Director John Caird has a long list of accomplishments, including Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC); he is the recipient of Tony Awards for Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby. The creative team for Daddy Long Legs is Nell Balaban (Assistant Director), David Farley (Scenic/Costume Design), Laura Berquist (Musical Director) Jonathan Burke (Sound Design), and Paul Toben (Lighting Design).

A six-piece offstage band under original Musical Director Laura Berquist (Conductor for National and International Tours of The King and I, Titanic and Miss Saigon) will perform the superb score, which ranges in style from classical musical theatre, to folk, to pop. The period sets and costumes for Daddy Long Legs are by Olivier Award-winner David Farley, who recently received rave reviews for his inventive West End and Broadway designs for Sunday in the Park with George and designed the Broadway revival of A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones. He is assisted by Coordinators Teresa Scarano (Props) and David “Spanky” Reynoso (Hair and Make-up). Lighting design is by Paul Toben, who recently designed The Story of My Life on Broadway. Sound design is by Jonathan Burke (Rubicon’s Fiddler and Man of La Mancha and work with The Geffen, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Mark Taper Forum).

Daddy Longs Legs is based on novel by Jean Webster (July 24, 1876 – June 11, 1916), an American writer and author of many books including Daddy-Long-Legs and its sequel Dear Enemy. Her best-known books feature lively and likeable young female protagonists who come of age intellectually, morally and socially, but with enough humor, snappy dialogue and gently biting social commentary to make her books enjoyable to contemporary readers. Webster began writing the novel Daddy-Long-Legs in 1911 while staying at an old farmhouse in Tyringham, Massachusetts. It was published in October 1912 to popular and critical acclaim. It was made into a stage play and a 1952 British stage musical comedy called Love from Judy, as well as films in 1919 starring Mary Pickford, 1931 starring Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter, a 1935 Shirley Temple adaptation called Curly Top and a 1955 film, Daddy Long Legs starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2011-2012 Season is sponsored by Lowell Cooperative Bank. Daddy Long Legs is sponsored by Lowell Five Bank, with additional support from Magic 106.7. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Megan McGinnis (Jerusha Abbot) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Broadway: Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Lucille in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Eponine in the recent revival of Les Miserables (directed by John Caird), Parade and The Diary of Anne Frank. McGinnis is a graduate of Columbia University.

Robert Adelman Hancock (Jervis Pendleton) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Off Broadway: Sky in the National Tour of Mamma Mia!, and regional productions of James Joyce’s The Dead (Court Theatre, Chicago), The Fantasticks (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Hair (Hangar Theatre), the original cast of Route 66 (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), Forever Plaid (Barrymore Nomination – Delaware Theatre Company), Muscle (World Premiere by Lapine/Finn at Pegasus Players Chicago) and A Christmas Carol (Westport Country Playhouse). As a soloist, Rob has performed with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.


Daddy Long Legs’ Director and Book author John Caird is best known for his London and Broadway creations of Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby, both with Trevor Nunn, which won Tony and Olivier Awards and have played throughout the world.

Many of his productions have been for the National Theatre in London, including Hamlet with Simon Russell Beale, Bulwer-Lytton’s Money, Caird’s own new versions of Bernstein’s Candide and Barrie’s Peter Pan, Trelawny of the Wells, The Seagull, Stanley by Pam Gems and Humbleboy by Charlotte Jones. Other work includes Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance at the Palace Theatre, Mozart’s Zaide at the Battignano Opera Festival in Tuscany and the Siegfried and Roy Spectacular in Las Vegas.

Television work includes Nicholas Nickleby, As You Like It and his own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV for the BBC.

Mr. Caird’s more recent stage work includes productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night, both for the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Michael Weller’s new play What the Night is For at the Comedy Theatre with Gillian Anderson and Roger Allam, and the transfer of Les Misérables to its new home at the Queen’s Theatre. Published work as a book writer, adapter and lyricist includes a new version of John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera with composer Ilona Sekacz first performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company, a new adaptation of J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan with Trevor Nunn which played at the RSC and the National, Children of Eden with composer Stephen Schwartz, and Bernstein’s Candide with new lyrics by Richard Wilbur and Stephen Sondheim. His new opera Brief Encounter with music by André Previn, based on the Noël Coward screenplay, recently opened to acclaim at the Houston Grand Opera. With Holly Kendrick, Mr. Caird founded the Caird Company to encourage and promote the work of young playwrights and theatre directors. Current productions include Theatre Café at the Arcola Theatre and The Arab-Israeli Cookbook at the Gate Theatre.

Paul Gordon, who wrote the music and lyrics for Daddy Long Legs, was nominated for a 2000 Tony Award for his score to Jane Eyre which was first presented by the Mirvish organization in Toronto. The production subsequently ran at the La Jolla Playhouse and then moved to Broadway. Paul’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Emma was co-produced by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, TheatreWorks and St. Louis Rep to tremendous acclaim.

Paul wrote and co-directed the independent film Dirk and Betty, which premiered at the 1999 Hamptons’ Film Festival and stars Marisa Tomei, Eric Roberts and Jonathan Silverman.

Paul has written two #1 songs: Next Time I Fall recorded by Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, and Friends and Lovers, which was #1 on both pop and country charts. Paul has also written for or collaborated with Bette Midler, Quincy Jones, Alanis Morissette, Vonda Shepard, David Foster, Patti LaBelle, Eddie Rabbit, Juice Newton, James Ingram, The Pointer Sisters, Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Eddie Money, Kenny Rogers, Smokey Robinson and Kenny G among many others.

Paul has written songs for several films including Stella, Ghostbusters II, Spacecamp, Twilight Zone, The Movie, Soul Man and The Principle. Paul is the recipient of nine ASCAP Awards. His most recent award was received for the theme to Ally McBeal, co-written with Vonda Shepard.

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