Rubicon Theatre Company opens the 2009-2010 Season with the World Premiere of a musical from John Caird, the Tony and Olivier Award-Winning director of Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby, and the creators of Jane Eyre.
Set at the turn of the last century, DADDY LONG LEGS is a coming-of-age story about Jerusha Abbott, an orphan who is given an opportunity to develop her mind and spirit by an anonymous benefactor. A trustee of the John Grier Hall reads an essay by the young Jerusha and offers to send her to college. His only requirements are that Jerusha never know his identity, and that she write him monthly (though he will not respond). She sees him once in shadows and invents a nickname for her mysterious patron-Daddy Long Legs.
DADDY LONG LEGS has music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, who has written chart-topping pop and country hits in addition to his works for the stage (Jane Eyre/Emma), and an imaginative book by John Caird based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster (great-niece of Mark Twain). Caird, whose credits include Les Miserables, Nicholas Nickleby, and work as both writer and director for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, also helms the production.
A six-piece offstage band under 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 role of Jerusha is played by Broadway ingénue Megan McGinnis, a Columbia University graduate whose New York credits include originating the role of Beth in the musical of Little Women. Other Broadway roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Lucille in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cosette in the recent revival of Les Miserables (directed by John Caird), Parade and The Diary of Anne Frank.
ROBERT ADELMAN HANCOCK assays the role of the long-legged Jervis Pendleton, continuing to develop the role he created during Rubicon's Fashion Forms Plays-in-Progress program. Rob also played Perchik in Rubicon's Fiddler on the Roof last season. Other credits include 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.
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 who will design the upcoming 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 Taper).
Rubicon Theatre Artistic Director James O'Neil says, "We are deeply honored to have this team of esteemed artists with us for the opening production of the 2009-2010 Season. This production came out of the Plays-in-Progress staged reading series launched by Ann Deal at Rubicon and we know our audiences will be intrigued to see how the show has evolved and changed in the expert hands of Paul Gordon and John Caird."
Says Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "When we did the reading of the show, by the next morning you could not get a seat to the second week's reading. We knew then that this was a simple but deeply affecting story and felt it had the potential to become a classic. John and Paul do such a beautiful job of drawing us in to the disparate worlds of these two extraordinary characters. We learn of Jerusha's lonely life in the orphanage, discover with her the joys of literature and history, understand her perspective on social classes, feel her disappointment at going through graduation without family, and come to admire and respect her as she becomes an intelligent, vivacious, and self-determined young woman. Through Jervis's awkward and sometimes humorous attempts to respond to Jerusha's letters, we realize his conflict about his own wealth and position and feel with him the divide between them."
Continues Burns, "Although the story is appropriate for all ages, I think that young women and their parents will particularly relate to DADDY LONG LEGS. There is a ‘Cinderella' aspect to the story, but it also hasC modern sensibilities. Jerusha is given a fairytale opportunity to get an education and rise above her circumstances. But it is what she makes of that opportunity and who she becomes that matters most."
MORE ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
DADDY LONG LEGS' Director and Bookwriter 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 which 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.
Mr. Caird is an Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), where he has directed over twenty plays. 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 most 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 RSC, 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.
DADDY LONG LEGS is a co-production of Rubicon Theatre Company of Ventura, California; THEATREWORKS in Palo Alto, California; Cincinnati Playhouse IN THE-PARK in Cincinnati, Ohio; Executive Producer Michael Jackowitz; and David Elzer. For tickets, call (805) 667-2900. Or go to www.rubicontheatre.org.
Rubicon, Cincinnati and TheatreWorks initially began discussions about DADDY LONG LEGS because of their prior relationships with the authors and their faith in the project. They then decided to work together to mount the production as a rolling World Premiere in part as a response to the current economic challenges facing non-profit theatres.
"By pooling our resources," says Rubicon Producing Artistic Director KARYL LYNN BURNS, "we are able to share set and costume construction costs and other expenses and offer our audiences a World Premiere event that might not otherwise be possible within our community's resources."
"This has been an exciting experiment," says Burns, "one we feel has the potential to positively impact the direction of our artistic and financial future."
"It has afforded us an opportunity to work with experienced, older LORT theatres," she continues, "and to learn from their excellent leadership."
Burns adds that she and Jackowitz are currently in discussion with other non-profit theatres that have expressed an interest in joining the consortium and adding DADDY LONG LEGS to their 2009-2010 or 2010-11 seasons.
DADDY LONG LEGS at Rubicon is sponsored by SANDRA AND JORDAN LABY, and Barbara Meister AND BARBER AUTOMOTIVE GROUP. Co-Sponsors are SHELLEY AND RICK BAYER and ELISE AND BILL KEARNEY.
DATES, SHOW TIMES AND TICKET INFORMATION
The Press Premiere and Opening Gala for DADDY LONG LEGS is Saturday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001. An after-party is hosted by DOUG HALTER and RANDY ENCINAS, CAFÉ NOUVEAU and JONATHAN'S RESTAURANT at a private home. Tickets for the Premiere are $95 and include the show, the party with the cast and creative team and a tax-deductible donation to Rubicon's New Works program. Low-priced previews of DADDY LONG LEGS are Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, October 15 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, October16 at 8:00 p.m. The production continues for a limited run through Sunday, November 8. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Some Sunday evenings may be scheduled. Prices range from $39 to $59, depending on the day of the week. Tickets may be purchased in person through the box office, located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance). To charge by phone, call (805) 667-2900. To select dates and seats online, go to www.rubicontheatre.org