"The secret of happiness is here"
December 10, 2015 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Off-Broadway's "Daddy Long Legs" musical (based on the novel that inspired the 1955 movie) is livestreaming tonight's 8 pm ET New York performance right now.

Producer Ken Davenport: We all know that shows sell tickets primarily on word of mouth. Well, we can only fit 1,000 people a week in our theatre. Hamilton can fit 10,000. Guess which one's word of mouth spreads faster? With a live stream we can give our word of mouth a steroid shot in one night.

Also airing at 8 pm PST, 8pm JST, 8pm GMT. #DaddyLongLegsLive
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Watching it right now and I'm pretty impressed. I was wondering how the heck they'd pull off a plot that's a one-woman epistolary novel, and now I got to find out!
What's interesting on this one is literally seeing Jervis's side of the story and his motivations, when he's drinking as she's advising him not to drink, getting ticked, writing letters from his "secretary," etc.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:56 PM on December 10, 2015

I'm finding it totally charming. Wish I had the notion to post it earlier, so others could join!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:58 PM on December 10, 2015

This is a fascinating experiment. I'm impressed with the quality of the broadcast for the bit I've seen so far, though the differences in lighting between stage and screen are noticeable at times.

Still, I'm a big proponent of live theater staying a live in-person experience and everything that chips away at that saddens me a little.
posted by zachlipton at 7:02 PM on December 10, 2015

I'm also really surprised he managed to get the relevant unions to go along with this and would be curious to know more about those arrangements.
posted by zachlipton at 7:42 PM on December 10, 2015

Yeah, but I will never see this show other than in this moment. So that's awesome.
Also, it's about to start again for the West Coast!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:57 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I, too, would be fascinated to hear the union details. Davenport could sell ice in Antarctica, I imagine he made a solid case for the value of the exposure. He could be right- surely regional theaters are going to be dying to license it now.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:02 PM on December 10, 2015

I'm watching it, and it says live but it's 12:20AM in NYC and the website says it started at 8PM EST so I'm not sure how that works but I'm happy to contribute to the country count.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:25 PM on December 10, 2015

I think they're re-airing the original livestream recording. That's usually how things work for us West Coasters with live East Coast anything. (Also, looks the same to me on the second go-round.)

Hah, yeah, contributing to the count is why I'm watching twice. (That and I missed the first 20 minutes originally going home from work.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:33 PM on December 10, 2015

I came in late and was delighted to find that it works to rewind to the beginning. Don't know if it will keep working after the stream ends, but it may be worth a shot if you catch this post after the fact. And because it took me a bit of digging in the article to find, here's a direct link.
posted by bunnysquirrel at 9:39 PM on December 10, 2015

...and never mind my link, the first one in the FPP works too. that's what I get for being overexcited by live theater.
posted by bunnysquirrel at 9:43 PM on December 10, 2015

I stole that book from my school library and I have no regrets.
posted by terretu at 1:53 AM on December 11, 2015

Okay somebody who watched it AND ALSO read the book, give me the low-down on how it comes out as a stage play. I freaking love that book, despite the troubling bits with the eugenics and the sort-of pre-feminist Cinderella fairy tale about money and manhood and Jervie's controlling nature*, so I've always been curious how you'd put it on in the modern era. I imagine the eugenicist bits have been stripped out? (If this passed you by in the books, she studies notable eugenicists at college and writes admiringly about reading them and having professors lecture about them to Daddy Long Legs. They're presented as sensible social reformers who want to stop "idiots" and "criminals" from reproducing (and, incidentally, populating orphanages with the "undeserving" poor), not as Nazis determined to slaughter millions, and IIRC the book was written during the height of eugenicist social reforming in the US and pre-Nazis. So it's on the one hand interesting and true to its time, but OTOH it's pretty uncomfortable for the modern reader.)

*I realize that Jerusha educates Jervie into being a real socialist who stops trying to control her and that is part of the point of the book, and that of course she's WILLING to make her own way and pay him back his money, but it's all a bit of a gesture in the direction of an "independent woman" rather than a fully worked-out consequence because clearly we all just want to get to the love story. Also somewhat undermined by the fact that in the sequel she is fully into being a rich man's wife and Sally McBride is much more interesting and useful than Jerusha.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:18 AM on December 11, 2015

Uh, no, there's no eugenics in this. The way it's working in the play is that mostly it's Jerusha reading her letters or Jervie reading them aloud (he's staged behind her in his study when he does it), and we see his side of the story: how he decides to go meet her as himself, how he writes the letters from his "secretary," how he can't get up the nerve to say who he is, how ridiculous he realizes the whole situation is and how awkward it is to read letters about himself, but he chokes. He gets quite snitty (both as DLL and himself) when Jerusha refuses to go to Europe, and writes angry letters both as DLL and as himself trying to convince her otherwise--and then reads in her letters that she might have changed her mind had Jervie not been a demanding ass. At which point he realizes that he can't control her, he doesn't like the jealous person he's being (like refusing to let her go to Camp McBride with Jimmie all summer), and he needs to chillax.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:16 AM on December 11, 2015

Still, I'm a big proponent of live theater staying a live in-person experience and everything that chips away at that saddens me a little.

I love live theater, too, but it's not accessible to everyone all the time. Anything that gives people a chance to see something they wouldn't otherwise be able to see is great in my book.

Justina_EO: Dear @kendavenport, Thank you sir, for getting it. Sincerely, A very broke, 19 year old theatre major from Michigan #DaddyLongLegsLive
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:18 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Next stream starts at 2 p.m. CST, btw, according to the site. Imma try to watch it although I'll have to break to get my kids at school midway. Maybe I'll catch intermission.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2015

I saw this twitter-trending an hour into the live show, and caught the 2nd act. Then despite much tiredness, I watched the re-stream at midnight. Because THEATRE!

Despite being a musicals nut, I've not seen the full Astaire/Caron version. (For one, I find the age difference there a bit off-putting, like Bogie/A.Hepburn in Sabrina… Tho’ I’d LUV to see more OlderWomen/YoungThing pairings.)

The twist to the story is reminiscent of all the variations of Little Shop Around the Corner/She Loves Me/You’ve Got Mail (and, I assume, the original Hungarian play). An anonymous correspondent knows the other in RL, yet continues to deceive. (The execution was particularly heavy-handed in “Mail,” while I still adore the “She Loves Me” version of that story.)

But in “Daddy,” the fact he also hold purse strings over her head, is problematic. And her thinking of him as an old benefactor, an almost father-figure, especially when she reduces the nickname to “Dear Daddy” squicks me.

But still, it was fun to have the livestream, because THEATRE! (And also, at least in stage makeup and on my screen, that actor sure does look like Ryan Gosling.)
posted by NorthernLite at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2015

The music is only eh -- not memorable, but serviceable -- but the play is charming. And as a two-person cast with a small set, and just a piano and violin (I think), it's easy to see it as a popular cruise ship production, or in summer stock.

And, yes, the play does strip out some of the more problematic elements, both by giving us Jervis's dilemma from his own view, and by getting rid of a lot of the offensively dated social reform ideas.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:24 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, PS, I've always felt sort-of bad for Jimmy McBride, getting so hardcore cockblocked. (Vulgar I know, but man, he seems like just a hapless nice teenaged dude trying to get a date!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:26 PM on December 11, 2015

So today I read the entirety of DLL the book online, because that is online for free. Uh...where was the eugenics? I just didn't see anything that was reminding me of that.

In other news, I about cracked up reading this: “He's a Socialist--except, thank Heaven, he doesn't let his hair grow and wear red ties.” In the play he's got a red tie! Also, I forgot she got a scholarship that paid for her room and board halfway through college and after that all she took from him was her allowance money.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:43 PM on December 11, 2015

If you can access this, there's a scholarly article here, about Webster's use of children's novels to push eugenic ideas. Jerusha talks a lot about heredity, bad inheritances from bad parents at the orphanage, etc. There's an annotated edition for the 100th anniversary (I want to say from Penguin?) that footnotes whenever the scholars Judy is raving excitedly about reading at school are noted eugenicists.

It is far, far more overt in the sequel "Dear Enemy" where Sally McBride takes over the orphanage and reforms it, partly in line with eugenicist social ideas, and talks in her letters about the Kalikak case and so on. She also triumphs at the end when (SPOILER) her stalled romance with the local doctor turns out to have stalled because he has a secret insane wife in a mental institution! But, good news for Sally!, she dies, freeing the doctor to marry the eugenically acceptable Sally instead of his genetically unsuitable mad wife THIS IS LITERALLY THE ROMANTIC TRIUMPH YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO CHEER. Also the doctor constantly sends Sally eugenics articles to educate her about why it's kinder to sterilize the mad, bad, or dumb, so no more will be born, and you are meant to see the doctor as an absolute MARTYR to failed genetic policies that condemned his genetically frail wife to a life of suffering and madness and institutionalization and the good doctor to an unhappy marriage no one knows about during which he feels free to flirt so ... not so bad?

In fact it'd take basically two paragraphs to turn it into a horror novel where the doctor finally decides to enact his ideals and kill his mad wife so he can have Aryan babies with Sally.

I'm not trying to be a downer, it was 1912, eugenics was scientific and respectable and - as the books present! - what good progressive people believe, and Daddy Long Legs is probably a more interesting cultural artifact BECAUSE there no self-conscious realization by the author that these ideas are TERRIBLE or should be avoided in polite company or when talking/writing to children. And it's a rollickingly fun and amusing story that makes women's college sound AMAZING. But the eugenics is definitely part and parcel of the author's intent.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:21 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older majestic   |   Understandably Cause for Alarm Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments