The UK may have world-renowned acting schools, but when it comes to the nurturing, proliferation and the respect for the musical as an art form, one has to travel Stateside. Case in point: Ordinary Days.
With book and lyrics by Adam Kwon and direction from Jennifer Coles, awareness of Ordinary Days has been gaining traction in recent years. Simply staged with four actors and musical director Rowland Braché on keyboards, Ordinary Days has all the essential qualities of a good musical. Asides from well-written songs that propel the narrative forward, the ‘book’ itself is solid, the ‘bones’ of a good play in its own right.
Set in New York, Ordinary Days introduces the characters separately – the one thing in common being they have come from elsewhere in the US to make their home in the Big Apple. Claire (Kirby Hughes) has been in New York for a while and quite settled – the one thing missing being a special someone to share her life with. As if the universe heard her heartfelt wish, along comes Jason (Alistair Frederick) – someone who hasn’t lived in NY long, but does have the advantage of living close by. It isn’t long before they become a couple and he moves into her apartment. But that’s when things become interesting…
Parallel to this are the lives of Warren and Deb. Warren (Neil Cameron) is looking after the cat of an artist who is in prison. While Warren’s on the cusp of the art world where he wants to makes his mark, it also seems out of his grasp. In a moment of serendipity, he finds a book containing thesis notes that belong to Deb (Nora Perone). If Warren is relatively laid back and philosophical, then Deb is his polar opposite. While not a native of the ‘Five Boroughs’, the many disappointments and false starts in her life have made her less accepting of life’s setbacks, ironically making her more like a stereotypical New Yorker.
While Ordinary Days may be set in the Big Apple, the twin themes of expectations from life and what to do where the ‘once perfect love’ loses its lustre are universally recognisible and underpins this humorous show with songs of substance.
© Michael Davis 2017
Ordinary Days runs at at the New Moon pub theatre in the City of London (Gracechurch Street/Leadenhall Market), until 17th June 2017, plus a 3pm performance on 14th June.
Ordinary Days will also run in Edinburgh at C Royale Venue 6 from 2nd-28th August (not 15th).