Pros: The musical performances are very witty, sharp and slick.
Cons: The storyline, though warm and touching, is not spectacularly original or complex.
Ordinary Days is a relatively new musical from musical theatre writer Adam Gwon. It follows the story of four modern-day New Yorkers: Warren, Deb, Jason and Claire. On an ordinary day in hectic Manhattan Deb loses her most precious possession – the notes on her graduate thesis. This happening unwittingly triggers a chain of events which explores how the ordinary lives of the four characters can connect in extraordinary ways. It considers what happens when you step out of your routine and readjust your perspective to view the bigger picture.
The musical is the debut performance at the newly formed London Theatre Workshop, a self-proclaimed ‘theatre boutique’ in the rather salubrious area of Fulham above the Eel Brook pub. The first season of shows, curated by founder Ray Rackham, aims to bring ‘a slice of Broadway’ to the area.
I am a fan of musicals and, though I haven’t seen many Broadway shows I do love a bit of Stephen Sondheim or Jonathon Larson (RENT), so I wasn’t out of my comfort zone watching this. The musical performances are quite accomplished, and the few sharp notes here and there are forgivable given the small size and acoustics of the space. The performers’ comic timing and delivery is very good indeed, with first prize going to Olga-Marie Pratt as Deb.
The storyline and songs are well put together, and while none of the songs are particularly memorable, they are quite lovely to listen to, especially since they’re performed so well. Unfortunately the ending and overarching message of the story is fairly predictable and could be accused of being a touch simplistic, but having said that I won’t pretend that I didn’t shed a little tear – it was quite touching!
The theatre space is relatively small, seating only 65, so it’s an intimate experience. However, performing in a space so small does mean there is little room for inventive staging or set design. With one of the main themes of the musical being the ever moving rush of the city, it is a shame that the creation of the various areas of the city where the action takes place isn’t more developed. Nevertheless, there were good moments depicting the subway and journeys in taxis, and the minimalist setting did ensure complete focus on the songs.
What struck me most about seeing this piece is that there are so many of us, myself included, who simply love the phenomenon of Broadway musicals. They’re cheery and easily digestible, with catchy, pleasant and witty songs. They explore themes in a well-rounded but pretty jolly way. This show is clearly conceived, directed and performed by people who love the genre – and that love shows strongly.
Therefore Ordinary Days, though not spectacularly original or complex, is funny, enjoyable and it warms the heart – like a good musical should. It’s well produced and performed in a cool new venue. So if you are a fan of Broadway or musicals in general this is a worthwhile night out!
Composer and lyricist: Adam Gwon
Director: Ray Rackham
Musical Director: Thomas Lees
Producer: London Theatre Workshop
Booking Link: http://londontheatreworkshop.co.uk/opening-show-ordinary-days/
Booking Until: 29th March 2014