Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Ordinary Days" at South Coast Repertory

"Never let tall buildings block the view of your dreams." In a concrete jungle that's home to over 8 million people, it's easy to feel ordinarily small. What's my life story? Where's my life going? These prevailing, common uncertainties are explored in the lives of four 20- and 30-somethings in Adam Gwon's auspicious new musical "Ordinary Days."

This past Saturday, I took in an evening at the theater with Jennifer Hood (Gazette Creative Director). Our evening began with a simple stroll through South Coast Plaza, a visit to the Nordstrom eBar, and a few paused moments to hear the joyous sound of the department store's house pianist. Next, we walked across the blue-lit bridge, arching over Bristol, to South Coast Repertory. Upon entering the foyer doors we were welcomed with New York themed cocktails, complimenting the evening's much anticipated performance. We quickly found our seats and waited for the show to begin on the Julianne Argyros Stage.

Warren (Nick Gabriel) and Jason (David Burnham) in the musical number "One by One by One." Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR.

"Ordinary Days" is set in New York City and tells the story of Warren, Deb, Jason and Claire. These four somewhat lost individuals come together in pairs to discover themselves and work through life's holdups. Warren is a lonely handbill jockey who finds frantic Deb's lost notebook, containing her grad school thesis. They meet at the Met and develop a sassy friendship that evolves over a tall Starbuck's order and a colorful, inspiring, rooftop paper storm that is completely magical. Jason and Claire are a familiar romantic duo: the uncommitted, scared girlfriend type and the ready-to-tie-the-knot boyfriend. In the middle of a who's-bringing-what-wine to dinner fight, Jason says, "I'll bring the red/You bring the white/That way I'll still get drunk/You'll still be right."

Deb (Deborah S. Craig) and Warren (Nick Gabriel) in the musical number "Sort-Of Fairy Tale." Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR.

Adam Gwon's 80-minute musical is lyrically conversational. The dialogue moves quickly, except for a few slower musical numbers that reveal the character's emotional development. Director Ethan McSweeny comments on Gwon's songs, "They're really good stories, and they stand up to moment-to-moment exploration of the situation from an acting point of view." There is also a wonderful on-stage pianist and Musical Director, Dennis Castellano, who plays almost the entire duration of the show. How incredible is that?

Claire (Nancy Anderson) and Jason (David Burnham) in the musical number "I'll Be Here." Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR.

The best stories are made of true, realistic stories, and these characters go through very believable trials that the audience can participate and reminisce in. And what better setting than NYC? It is a city that we all love; even if we've never been there. Taking a cue from Mr. Sinatra, let's start spreading the news. Let's be a part of it. New York, New York! You'll love this lighthearted and inspiring, quirky, fun show! I did.

"Ordinary Days" performances run through January 24th, 2010. For ticket information visit South Coast Repertory online or call the box office (714) 708-5555. Ticket special: every Friday and Sunday night is a "Pay Your Age" night; $10 for teens, $20 for 20-somethings, and $30 for 30-somethings.
- Sara
Listening to Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind, Pt. II"

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