Based on Jean Webster’s century old epistolary novel of the same name, it exudes period charm, lightly spiced by heroine Jerusha Abbott’s independence of spirit.
A long-term resident at a grim orphanage, her literary talents are spotted by one of the trustees who arranges, anonymously, to pay for her further education – on condition that she writes him a monthly letter (addressed to “Mr John Smith) to which she is to expect no reply.
Of course it doesn’t take long before he becomes increasingly intrigued by his intelligent young protégée and when it transpires that she’s studying with his niece, he swiftly engineers the first of several meetings.
Naturally, the course of true love never runs smooth or there’d be no musical.
So wealthy, diffident Jervis (who is in fact tall, dark, handsome and reasonably young – not the doddery octogenarian benefactor of Jerusha’s imagination) finds all sorts of excuses not to reveal his true identity – or declare his feelings – as he gets increasingly jealous of any other potential suitor for her affections.
Lovingly directed and written by John Caird, it never aspires to great dramatic heights.
But Paul Gordon’s songs are neat, witty and, with Robert Adelman Hancock’s Jervis adding pleasing harmonies, beautifully delivered by the rather enchanting Megan McGinnis in a shamelessly romantic but rewarding evening.
St James, 21 Palace Street, SW1E 5JA
Tube | Victoria
Until 8th December
£30.00 – £45.00
Photo: Jeanne Tanner