Ordinary Days distils the very essence of a musical. In just over an hour, and with just four actors on stage, the cast and crew managed to deliver on everything that gives a great musical its heart.
This short story follows four characters living their ordinary but poignant lives in New York City. Highly strung Deb (Ruby Nicholson) has a chance encounter with odd-ball Warren (Máth Roberts), and they have much to learn from each other. Meanwhile Claire (Fifi Zanabi) has a past which threatens to undermine her future with straightforward Jason (JJ Gibbs).
For such a short play I was impressed by how well all the players were developed, which says a lot about the writing, but also about the direction and acting. Of course they are not deep Pinteresque characters, but each one had a clear flavour and their own unique shtick, so that within a few scenes you feel that you know them and know how they are going to interact.
The acting was all in perfect Broadway style: open but not caricature, body language clearly employed to typecast personality. Roberts, for example, had clearly modelled his portrayal of Warren on Elder Price from The Book of Mormon, pulling it off so accurately that I caught myself thinking of them as the same character.
Songs covered all the standard musical bases; hopeful open chord numbers, funny fast-paced ditties and touching, melancholy affairs. Delivery was generally good, sometimes mixed but often excellent. There was the occasional reaching for a note, and the multi-part pieces sometimes sang over rather than with each other. That said, equally often the small cast pulled it off perfectly. Special mention must go to Nicholson who was clear as a bell in her emotional songs and also managed to pull off the tricky ‘patter’ songs flawlessly.
Altogether the performance was relentlessly fun, emotionally uplifting and happily validating of everyone’s unique ordinariness. The effort and enjoyment of all involved clearly shone through in delivering this difficult piece, and paid dividends in the smiles of the audience. Though there is a little room for polishing in the details, the bigger picture was that I loved it.