Madison’s Daddy Long Legs a touching and perfect virtual performance

Kevin McAllister
Kailey Boyle

Every theater artist will tell you how difficult it is to create meaningful work in this new, all virtual, environment the pandemic has forced on all of us.

But Madison’s Capital City Theatre, located in the suburb of Middleton, has created an absolutely perfect couple of hours of theater with its production of “Daddy Long Legs” which runs unto Nov. 28 online.

The story of this play, based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster, it tell the story of an orphan girl named Jerusha Abbott and a mysterious benefactor who sends her to college and to a life filled with both opportunity and success.

The book for the play was written by John Caird with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon and Capital City has taken this delightful story and turned it into an enchanting and delightful production full of humor and burgeoning love.

Under the masterful direction of Stephen Amato and music direction of Evan Lange, this two-person cast delivers a performance that is filled with warmth and passion.

As Jerusha, Kailey Boyle has the wide-eyed innocence of a young girl and she easily and gracefully grows into a woman hungry for new experience and brave enough to follow both her heart and her dreams. She is a darling singer who handles a difficult libretto with ease.

Kevin McAllister plays Jervis, the benefactor who gradually finds his cold heart cracked wide open. He combines power with a gentleness that portrays the slow but sure growth in his soul. He also has a great voice and a presence that demands attention.

The entire story is told in the letters that Jerusha is required to write every month, reporting on her activities to Jervis. She has no idea who he really is and he is determined to maintain his anonymity. Each character sings separately and, on occasion, together, a difficult task when shooting a script requiring both players to be in separate locations.

Your can see the hard work that went into making sure the video editing and the performances flowed with the same kind of ease that you would see if this performance were live. Eight years ago, Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre staged one of the original versions of Daddy and it was a winning performance.

But this production by Capital City seems somehow to capture the leisure and inevitability of the this man and this woman toward love with an added bit of seduction. Perhaps it is the very nature of a virtual performance that enhances this story.

It is so interesting watching theater companies struggle to survive by moving from real stages to a virtual world. Some do it with great stress and difficulty. Capital City has seemingly slid into the world with ease and provides an absolutely wonderful heart-filled theatrical experience.

To see “Daddy Long Legs” go to https://capitalcitytheatre.org/.

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