Review by Sandra Harman
Set in the hustle and bustle of New York City, the Brisbane professional premiere of this modern urban musical with Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon, tells through song how the ordinary lives of four very different people intersect as they search for meaning, fulfillment, love and understanding, and find their own story in a city of over 8 million.
At the beginning, we meet each character separately through their own musical number – the ever optimistic artist Warren (Daniel Kirkby) who cat sits for an imprisoned artist and hands out inspirational messages on the street “One by One by One”, Deb (Stephanie Williams) a cynical and defensive Grad Student working on a thesis about Virginia Woolf and struggling to find her focus“Don’t Wanna Be Here”, Clare (Chelsea Burton) and Jason (Cal Silberstein) a couple who have made the decision to move into together as the next step in their relationship. Jason wants to be closer to Clare both geographically and emotionally “The Space Between” while Clare is still not sure and reluctant to let go of past things and connections “Let things Go”.
As Individuals, they struggle to find what it is each is looking for, as they traverse this thing called life, and it is only when their paths inextricably intwine in a beautiful visual and musical moment “Rooftop Duet / Falling” do they discover how to trust each other and let go of their burdens and fears.
The highly experienced ensemble of Kirkby, Williams, Burton and Silberstein are outstanding both vocally and as performers, as they navigate their characters journeys through a total of 21 beautifully effective songs and show once again what exceptional talent is available in Brisbane. All four work together wonderfully in their pairings and as an ensemble, skillfully conveying both the comedy and the drama of the unfolding stories.
The musical numbers have been penned with the purpose of revealing the thoughts and emotions of each character and are widely diverse in style and sentiment. There is Deb’s broadly comedic “Dear Professor Thompson Parts 1 & 2”, the ‘romance’ songs of Jason and Clare "Favorite Places" and “Fine” as they see-saw back and forth in their relationship, Warren’s almost Don-Quixote like quest to find meaning via “Life Stories” and the heartbreaking and powerful “I’ll be Here” which finally reveals Clare’s reluctance to move forward with Jason.
Pianist / Repetiteur Alexandra Angus is to be applauded for her exquisite accompaniment on Piano. She plays non-stop for the entire 85 minutes and is quite literally, the 5th member of the ensemble.
Musical Director, Dr. Dan Jess has brought out the best in his performers and does an outstanding job of successfully realizing the intricate stories and emotional journeys of these characters. If handled differently, this is a musical that had the possibility of being slightly disjointed, but the scenes weave together seamlessly creating a lovely flow between each moment.
The set is sparse and functional, utilizing levels very effectively, and along with the creative lighting manages to create a much-needed sense of intimacy in the generous space that is the Trinity Church Hall.
Overall, this is an intelligent, enjoyable production filled with heart and humanity, reminding us how even the smallest action can change someone’s life. Ordinary Days plays until 25th June and it would be a shame to miss it.