PROVO — While Daddy Long Legs, a musical by John Caird and Paul Gordon, has been a hit with Utah theatre audiences in the past, I have somehow missed the boat and have yet to see a production of this show in any capacity. Having first premiered in 2009-2010 in both California and Ohio, and then moving on to the West End, this two-person show seems to have stolen the heart of many an audience goer and I was intrigued to see if the fuss could move me as well.

Presented at the Covey Center for the Arts in downtown Provo, Daddy Long Legs, directed by Kris W. Peterson, follows the story of Jerusha Abbott, played by Dylann Riggs, who lives in the John Grier home and has reached college age. She has been granted the funds to go to college by a mysterious benefactor, with the one condition that she write to him once a month. She nicknames him Daddy Long Legs based on his shadow, and thus the story begins. The benefactor is actually Jervis Pendleton, played by Scott Hendrickson, a shy socially awkward rich man who has decided to bestow his wealth and attention on Jerusha. Of course, this story leads to romance because that is how these stories go.

Daddy Long Legs plays at the Covey Center for the Arts through May 6. | Photo Credit: Willow Becker.

When I entered the Brinton Black Box at the Covey Art’s Center, I was struck by the set design by Robert Seely. Small spaces and intimate stories often have the chance to give the audience a very cozy feeling, and Seely has done this in a detailed way. Along the back wall was a tree with letters for leaves, which is an integral part of the plot. Additionally, there were some fantastic set choices, including a bookcase that was central to the stage. This bookcase served as somewhat of a bridge between the two characters, and allowed for beautiful moments, such as the delivery of a bouquet of flowers in the song “I’m a Beast” which was an impressive touch.

Music director Shaunna Thompson has worked magic with the vocals of Riggs and Hendrickson. Because this show is so intimate, there is no room for error, and Riggs and Hendrickson were absolutely up to the challenge. As Riggs opened the show with the song “Oldest Orphan”, her clear and strong voice was so pleasant that I could tell this was going to be a good evening. When Hendrickson joined in for the first duet “Mr. Girl Hater” I could tell that the casting of vocals were perfectly matched.

Covey ; Daddy Long Legs ; 2024 ; Provo

Photo Credit: Willow Becker.

With a small cast, the detail to costume design is even more noticeable. Elizabeth Crandall created some lovely dresses for Jerusha, and I loved the progression of costume changes as the years progressed throughout the college years. It was also an intriguing comparison to the costume of Jervis, that stayed quite the same over the years, which is quite true to men’s fashion of the time. One of the details that I really loved was the accessories, for example a watch pin that Jerusha wore during the scenes of her senior year of studies. It is these details that make attending theatre in an intimate space enjoyable, and that showcase the work of a good costume designer.

As is customary in all romantic comedies, Jerusha and Jervis have their ups and downs, and Riggs and Hendricks built the chemistry well for these situations. I appreciated how Hendricks played up the awkward feelings of someone who does not feel comfortable in social situations, and as a person who loves learning, I loved the energy that Riggs put into gaining knowledge, which shone through what was the best song of the evening “Things I Didn’t Know.” This is where the empathy for the characters was at its finest, gaining the best understanding of what it would be like to enter a world so foreign to what one has been used to.

Photo Credit: Willow Becker.

Daddy Long Legs as a production is a light-hearted romance that is intrinsically charming. It is easy to see why it has built such a following in the Utah theatre scene. For those who fall into the demographic of enjoying period romances, the Covey Art’s Center Production will hit all the notes that you are looking for in a great night out. While it reminded me that I am not a hopeless romantic and some of the themes fell a little flat for me, this is why the theatre is a magical place where we can open our eyes to new shows and experiences that are important to everyone and every audience. The cast and crew of Daddy Long Legs told the story in an impeccable way and was a good reminder that “The Secret of Happiness” is often just to sit back and enjoy the show.

Daddy Long Legs plays Thursday-Saturday Night and Monday Night at 7:30pm through May 6, 2024 at the Brinton Black Box at the Covey Arts Center, 425 West Center Street, Provo, Utah 84601. Tickets are $18-20. For more information see 

This review was generously sponsored by a grant from the Provo City Recreation, Arts, and Park (RAP) grant.