There are two reasons to see “Daddy Long Legs,” opening Friday at Whidbey Playhouse Community Theatre.
Those reasons are Heather Good McCoy and Darren McCoy.
Married in real life, their familiarity, affection and romantic magnetism carry the production that tells the story of how an orphan is sent to college via a mysterious benefactor and how the lost art of letter writing bridges their different worlds.
That they carry the show is essential because they are the show.
A cast of two, they act, sing, and emote for almost two hours.
Based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster, the Playhouse production follows the 2009 two-person musical adaption by Paul Gordon and John Caird.
The couple, both 34, seem tailor made for this tale of cultural and emotional awakening. Much of the play revolves around the correspondence between the young woman and her wealthy supporter.
In fact, words, sentences and passages from the book comprise about one-quarter of the set as words swirl in beautiful script on plain white paper. It provides a perfect background to the dialogue, which is often the two of them reading aloud each other’s letters.
Heather Good McCoy is outstanding as the young sheltered girl, Jerusha Abbott, raised in John Grier Home, who blossoms once exposed to the literary classics and variety of classes she encounters as a student at a women’s college.
She’s a quick study — both in books and boys. One of her observations: “Men, I found, purr if you rub them the right way, spit if you don’t.”
Darren McCoy assumes the identities of a few different men — benefactor, benefactor’s assistant and uncle to one of Jerusha’s good friends. He does this seamlessly and with great humor and facial expressions to match his growing exasperation of admiring Jerusha from afar.
On stage Sept. 7-23, the American play came to Oak Harbor via Scotland and fans of its most famous poet, Robert Burns.
Co-director Cynthia Kleppang just happens to be married to Scotsman, David Kleppang, from Dundee and they happen to be friends with Doug Langrock, a familiar stage presence at Whidbey Playhouse now directing his first play.
They are all friends with Heather and Darren McCoy, meeting them in 2013 when the two were getting to know each other and making a “star-crossed debut” in the play, “The Last Five Years.”
Langrock explains in the program that the couples get together every Jan. 25 for Burns Night.
“We toast Robert Burns with peated whisky, cock-a-leeky soup and haggis. Afterwards we sit around the piano and sing Broadway songs, songs of Scotland, and a token Irish song, “Danny Boy.”
They also dream of shows they’d like to bring “to our humble stage on Midway,” wrote Langrock, a family physician with WhidbeyHealth last seen on stage in some hilarious outfits for the play, “The Producers.”
The book, “Daddy Long Legs” is a favorite story of Cynthia Kleppang, who was given a copy by her best friend in high school.
“I loved it so much,” Kleppang said. “I must have read it 60 times.”
Even though it was written a century ago, the novel explores themes still resonating today, such as feminism and social justice.
“Everything is still relevant,” Kleppang said. “Women are still seeking empowerment and respect. Life isn’t all that different even with today’s technology.”
Other truths also span the century gap, Kleppang wrote in the program: “That love can cross boundaries, and that if charity is true and from the heart, money will actually never be enough to make a difference.”
Tears streamed down her face as the McCoys took their bows during last week’s preview. “Watching them fall in love again as Jerusha and Jervis, I just can’t keep from crying,” she told a friend.
Heather Good McCoy, who is a physician’s assistant in Coupeville, said rehearsals gave her a chance to see more of her husband, as their work schedules don’t always align.
Being married to the lead is convenient, she added, especially when it comes to memorizing so many lines and lyrics.
“It was really nice living with Darren and being able to work on lines,” she said. “And there’s that constant source of support we have for one another, that sort of extra ‘do well’ sentiment.”
They share a love of music and singing.
McCoy is a choral teacher at Oak Harbor High School and he directs the Whidbey Community Chorus. Good McCoy has been singing since age 11 and took voice lessons at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
They are especially mesmerizing when singing duets, such as “The Secret of Happiness” and “All This Time.”
Their songs are accompanied by a sweet-sounding simple ensemble directed by Darren McCoy that includes; Sharon Burge playing piano, Marj McNae on cello, Saul Nathaniel McCartney on guitar and Pat Felger on bass, percussion and a few other instruments.
• “Daddy Long Legs” on stage at Whidbey Playhouse Sept. 7-23. Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m,; Sunday matinee, 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $20. On sale at Whidbey Playhouse, 730 SE Midway Blvd., Oak Harbor or www.whidbeyplayhouse.com