The two-actor musical Daddy Long Legs officially opened at the Barn Theatre last night.

The Tony Award-nominated composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and Tony-winning librettist-director John Caird based this production on the Jean Webster’s early-20th-century chick-lit novel of the same name.

This is the Barn’s only musical of the year and they have, since opening their doors in March 2018, built up a strong reputation for their various musical productions and last night’s deliciously sweet, two-hander didn’t disappoint.

On the surface it’s a Cinderella story, set in the early 1900’s, and follows a poor, clever orphan girl, Jerusha Abbott, who writes promising poems and stories which attract the notice of one of the orphanage’s trustees, Jervis Pendleton. He decides to anonymously finance her college education and she suddenly has the world opened up to her and gets given the opportunity to not only have an education but to fulfil a dream to be a writer. In exchange, she must write to him once a month, though with no expectation that her letters will ever be read and certainly with no expectation to receive a response. Jerusha has never seen the man, except for his lanky shadow, which looks to her like a daddy-long-legs spider — hence the pseudonym she has given him.

The Barn has once again presented a bewitching and delightful piece of theatre wonderfully directed by Kirstie Davis, the heart and soul of which lies in its story and score. Gregor Donnelly’s incredibly inventive set design dominated by an impossibly tall bookcase, communicates an aura of intimate spaciousness that sees both cast members cleverly play out their separate lives in front of the audience.

The stunningly elegant musical arrangement crafted by Musical Director, Charlie Ingles, on piano, ably supported by Alex Crawford on guitar and Rosalind Ford on Cello, provides a calmly elegant foundation, to this show that simply sweeps you along.

The audience is treated to a story that sticks closely to Jean Webster’s novel and brings a fantasy, mystery & intimacy of letters & generosity of spirit to all of us. It’s by far the most refreshing show I've seen in a while.

The lyrics produce some memorable moments. “Like Other Girls,” “Freshman Year Studies,” and “Things I Didn’t Know” forms a nice comical series of catalogue songs, while “The Secret of Happiness” provides an overarching, subtle anthem for the show.

Each of the two protagonists is wise in his and her own way, and foolish in his and her own way which, of course, ultimately makes them a perfect couple. The unlikely plot, indeed, provides a vehicle for exploring the issue of revelation and concealment that are part of any developing romance, or any functional human relationship, for that matter.

Both Ryan Bennett who plays Jervis Pendleton and Rebecca Jayne-Davies who plays Jerusha Adams are a dream from the opening number to the finale. Ryan’s highly pleasurable numbers often dwell on the joys of reading and contain more deftly interwoven solos than full-throated romantic duets.

Rebecca’s character Jerusha is a sparky energetic figure with a good heart who evolves from a sheltered girl into an independent educated woman. Her rich beautiful voice is perfectly suited to the emotional lyrics and evocative melodies.

Charming and tender, this beautifully crafted piece makes you feel like you're peeking into the lives of the characters. Outstanding acting, beautiful voices, and a sweet tension that builds and builds. Their performances are an absolute delight to behold.

The feelgood factor in the theatre was palpable. The great use of the stage space, the music, and the cast of two made for a perfectly delightful evening.

The underlying message is that finding the secret of happiness is only achieved when we let go of what we're told to be and focus on what we need to be.

Overall, it’s a heart-bursting, enjoyable, romantic, musical for all the family. It’s definitely a show to fall in love with.