Why I’m producing Daddy Long Legs Off Broadway.

“What the heck was that?” I wondered silently.

“It feels like there’s a leak, coming from the corner of my eye.  There’s some sort of liquid coming . . . wait a minute.  Is this a . . . a . . . yep, well dangit, it is.  It’s a tear.”

It happened somewhere during the middle of Act I.  Me.  Cold-hearted Ken Davenport.  Tearing up at a musical about a young woman escaping the orphanage where she grew up, becoming a successful writer, and finding true love in the process.

Why did this show get me?  Was it the heroine’s against-all-odds journey?  Was it the heart-crushing performance of Megan McGinnis?  Was it the sweet and sweeping music of Paul Gordon (I was a huge fan of Jane Eyre)?

Answer?  Yes.  Yes.  And oh yes.

If you had told me that this was the reaction I was going to have the first time I saw Daddy Long Legs, I would have thought you had been smoking some of that stuff that is legal in Colorado and Washington.

But I did.  I cried.  I’m dude enough to admit it.

And that’s why I knew I had to produce it.

If this show could find it’s way into my heart, then I knew it could get into the hearts of thousands of others.  And the funny thing is, it already had!  By the time I saw Daddy Long Legs, it had already been produced across the country world, from Los Angeles to London (including its world premiere at the Rubicon Theatre), and at lots of theaters in between (including a couple stints in Tokyo!).  And it even generated reviews like this from The Huffington Post:

Whereas 2003’s Wicked may have been the most successful musical of the first decade of the 21st century, I’d be willing to bet that, in this century’s second decade, Daddy Long Legs will become much more deeply adored and cherished by women of all ages.

Add up all those productions, the reviews, direction by John Caird (of Les Miz fame), and then douse it with a few of my tear drops, and I knew it had to come to New York.  And I knew I had to be a part of it.

But how?

With so few Broadway theaters available, would a theater-owner take a chance on a two-person musical without a major star?  Doubtful.

So that leaves Off Broadway, where a show like this belongs.

Off Broadway is a riskier proposition for sure.  Unless.  Unless you can do something different.  Something unique that goes against conventional wisdom.  Something that also gives you great control.

The traditional approach would be to put a show like this in a 299 or 350 seat theater, to make the numbers look better on paper.  But one of Off Broadway’s biggest challenges today is that it doesn’t have the media dollars or the marketing power to compete with Broadway.   Or simply put, Off Broadway doesn’t have the dollars to fill those seats anymore.  So why try?

Why not put it in a smaller theater, and create a tighter ticket and a much more intimate experience (especially for a show like this)?

So forget 350, 299, or even 199.  How about something around 150?

And wait . . . I happen to have one of those.

So why not put it in my own theater, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the other Off Broadway houses in town? As the theater operator, I can make it more efficient and economical since I control both sides.

I pitched this idea to my partner on the show, Michael Jackowitz, the authors of Daddy Long Legs (the aforementioned Paul Gordon and John Caird), and the darling Ms. McGinnis, and they were all for it.

So we’re doing it.  We start previews at the Davenport Theatre on September 10th, and open on September 27th.

It’s an intimate show, in an intimate theater, produced in an ultra-economic way.  You know, how Off Broadway started.  Kind of like . . . well . . . The Fantasticks.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could create the next one?

Come see it and find out if we do.

You can get tickets here . . . and with each ticket, you get tears for free.

And watch/hear Megan sing “The Secret of Happiness,” here.

 

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Comments
  • Brooke Tansley says:

    I like you!

  • Tiffany says:

    Oh my goodness! “Daddy Long Legs” is one of my favorite books, and one of my favorite musicals. I fell in love with the demo on Gordon’s site, and bought the cast album as soon as it came out–Ms. McGinnis is perfect! I’m definitely going to have to make a special trip up to NY just to see this. I cannot wait. Thank you for producing this darling show.

  • Walt Frasier says:

    Any relation to the old Fred Astaire Movie? Classic!

  • Jan Wasserman says:

    Ken, I am so thrilled that you are producing Daddy Long Legs, it is such a gem. Megan is spectacular. I have seen this play more times than I can count, from the very first reading at the Rubicon, to various venues in the California area. I loved the book as a kid, and I re read it before it came to the Rubicon. It is a classic in the true sense of the word. When I read it at the age of 10, I pictured Jervis in my mind, I knew exactly what he looked like, and Rob Hancock could have stepped out of my mind right on to the stage. He is a perfect Jervis. So, I guess what I’m saying is: No Rob? How very disappointing.

  • Anzu says:

    I love this story! I hope I can get out to Ny! Congratulations! Woohoo!

  • Gigi R says:

    I loved, loved, loved this show when I saw it out here in California. I hope it becomes a huge success for you. NYC is in for a beautiful treat. Wishing you a long and prosperous run!!

  • Ilene Argento says:

    Very cool! We saw this in La Mirada, California several years ago, and thought it had a lot of promise! Can’t wait to see what you do with it! Hope it runs at the Davenport Theatre as long as the Fantastiks has been running!

  • mike mcclernon says:

    This is a wonderful show. I’m glad you’ve figured out a way to stage it! Every moment of the show is a treasure. Smart move, buying a theater!

  • Donald Corbin says:

    What a wonderful show. I was gifted tickets to a tour of this show in Detroit with Christy Altomare and Kevin Earley. I fell in love with it instantly. I shed tears for sure. Bought the CD and still listen to it frequently. I would love to see it in N.Y.

  • Ray Quirolgico says:

    I’m thrilled this show will be performed again. But I have to tell you that Megan McGinnis first made me weep like a child when I saw her in “Little Women” on Broadway (and she nearly stole the show from Sutton Foster, which is no small feat)! On the basis of that alone (not knowing anything else about “Daddy Long Legs”), I made a long trek from San Francisco to San Jose years ago just to see her in anything again. Seeing “Daddy Long Legs” was such a happy discovery: every moment was a thrill and a joy. Thank you, thank you for producing this and allowing more audiences to see what theatrical magic is made when you combine simply evocative storytelling, earnest characters, emotional acting, smart lyrics, pretty music, clever staging, and human realness. This does indeed have the potential to strike the right chord at the right time. To borrow from that “other” show I firs saw Megan McGinnis perform in: “Some things are meant to be…” Bravo (in advance, and again when I see this Off-Broadway – I hope)!

  • copa says:

    Considering the current social climate, I think u’ll get more traction with the title “MOMMY LONGLEGS”?? 😉

  • Alex says:

    Love to see this show make it to NYC. I’ve seen it in a couple previous incarnations, and Ms. McGinnis is a charmer. But without the warm presence of Rob Hancock’s Jervis, I’ll pass.

  • Elisa Clayton says:

    What great news! I hope I get to see the show! I wish you all the best and much continued success! Oh, and to cover all bases, break a leg!

  • Duane Poole says:

    I attended the Rubicon premiere some years back and was blown away by the beauty of the writing, the simplicity of the staging, and the power of the emotion it all evoked. So glad to hear you shared the feeling and are passing it along to some very lucky theatergoers. Bravo!

  • As a college theatre director, I’ve always looking for great shows to take my students to see, and great shows to produce on my campus. “Daddy Long Legs” makes me pretty excited on both counts! Hope it’s running January 2016 as I’m happy to bring about 50 students to a performance.

    Maybe amateur rights will be released some day? The trailer really appeals, especially since I recently directed “Little Women: The Musical” myself. Megan is adorable.

  • Lyndsay Austin says:

    As a kid, I loved this movie! Oblivious then but looking back now, it has a bit of creep factor as did Gigi. In this case, old guy/young girl relationship. Anything done in the new stage version to make it more PC? It doesn’t bother me, but in today’s climate of sensitivity, the Fred Astaire version might get some push back.

    • Tiffany says:

      The musical is based on the book, which has very little in common with the Fred Astaire movie (besides the name). And in the musical, Jervie is aged down a bit so that he is within a non-creepy age range of Jerusha.

      If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. It’s really good. Much better than the movie, in my opinion.

    • Jan Wasserman says:

      As Tiffany said the movie has absolutely nothing to do with the book except for the title. The musical follows the book very well it is a sweet coming of age story for the young girl, Jerusha who started out life in an orphanage. The book is an epistleary and the songs in the musical are based on her letters. lyrics and the music are beautifully written The adaptation is superb. I’ve loved it from the very beginning, starting with the first reading at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura, California.

  • George Ball says:

    I’ve seen the show 3 times and I can’t imagine you not casting Rob Hancock. You know it’s every actor’s nightmare to put his heart and soul into a part in the early stages of a project only to be left out when it achieves a New York production. He is absolutely perfect for that part and has paid his dues. Please do the right thing!!!!!!!!

  • Eileen Ogle says:

    Ken, am so happy you are opening Daddy Long Legs in NYC. Am planning to be there for the opening night in October. Have seen Megan McGinnis & Rob Hancock perform the play in Calif & London and simply cannot imagine handsome & talented Rob not being on the Davenport stage with Megan in NYC. They had such believable compatibility in their roles & it would be so disappointing to learn that Rob wasn’t selected to again perfectly perform the role of Jervis.

  • Catherine Groppet says:

    New Yorkers are finally able to see a bonfied moving and warm and deep love story set to wonderful music and sung and realized by the indomitable Megan Gordon and debonair and gifted John Caird ( who embodies a youthful Astair and delivers an electric authentic performance falling , gently in love with Jerusha . McGinnis is liberated yet naive . Perhaps some New Yorkers quite possibly have forgotten what it feels like or looks like to discover awakening (though way down deep they yearn for that in themselves wishing to rekindle that feeling).Daddy Long Legs delivers and for a small price , you get to go to a show with an extradinory and bway set tucked into a charming off bway space , and you are guaranteed to cry and smile and laugh but mostly become involved with this duo who take you on their journey through a magical score ( Paul Gordon ).John Caird ‘s book and direction are flawless and carefully created and imagined .Theatre doesn’t get better than this story telling , it’s simply captivating . It is an amazing respite from the world’s political woes and you will walk out of the theatre on west 45 street feeling refreshed and happy . You deserve it ,

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