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Ordinary Days
Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Samantha Stavely
Silhouettes Production Company
June 22, 2017

Clayton Humburg, Grace Minnis, Emily Scott, Gabriel Beckerle
Photo: Silhouettes Production Company

New York is a big city. To many people, it’s THE big city–the iconic representation of what a large, bustling American city is about, full of people with hopes and dreams big and small. NYC is the setting for the four-person, mostly sung-through musical Ordinary Days, which tells the story of four New Yorkers whose lives intersect in somewhat surprising ways. It’s a one-act musical and not very long, but it’s full of energy and a bright, tuneful score. Presented by Silhouettes Production Company at the Chapel, this show features a promising young cast that emphasizes the sincerity and optimism of the piece.

The story follows four people, only two of whom actually know each other at the beginning of the show. Jason (Clayton Humburg) and Claire (Grace Minnie) are a young couple who have been seeing each other for a while and have just decided to move in together, and Jason is excited, although Claire has some secrets she’s not yet ready to share. Meanwhile, the idealistic Warren (Gabriel Beckerle) is house-sitting for a controversial artist and papering the town with flyers quoting the artist’s work, and exasperated grad student Deb (Emily Scott) loses a notebook containing important information for her thesis, and Warren finds it, eventually leading to an unlikely friendship. The story occasionally takes the characters to the same place at the same time, such as when all four take a memorable journey to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but their paths don’t directly cross until near the end of the play. In the meantime, Jason and Claire navigate a difficult stage of their relationship, and Warren and Deb contemplate the purpose of their lives.  It’s a somewhat slight plot, but the focus is on these characters and their interactions, with moments of humor and drama woven into the story punctuated by Adam Gwon’s memorable score.

This production is simply staged, with an evocative two-level set by Emily Rice that suggests the brick buildings and fire escapes of New York backed by a silhouetted skyline. The characters are appropriately outfitted by costume coordinator Katie Melin, and the action is illuminated well by lighting designer Nick Cook. The staging is brisk and energetic, with strong characterizations and excellent vocals by an energetic young cast, with Scott as the stressed-out Deb and Beckerle as the exhaustingly optimistic Warren as real stand-outs. Beckerle’s voice in particular is strong and clear from his first number, the show-opening “One by One by One”. There’s a great combative chemistry between these two as well. Humburg and Minnis are also excellent as Jason and Claire, bringing a believable emotion to their story, although Minnis reads as slightly young for the backstory that is revealed for Claire. Still, they make a convincing couple, and Humburg brings an endearing determination to his role as well. There’s good singing all around, well supported by accompanist Ellie Bode on piano.

This is an encouraging show. It’s a refreshingly sincere, character-driven story that also succeeds in making its setting a character in itself.  This is the second production of this show I have seen (after seeing it a few years ago in London), and it’s a good one.  It’s a vibrant show with a lot of heart, from a production company with which I hadn’t been familiar before, and I’m impressed.  It’s an excellent effort, and well worth seeing.

Silhouettes Production Company is presenting Ordinary Days a the Chapel until June 24, 2017.

 

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