Left – Erica Lovell and Jay James-Moody. Cover – Michael Falzon, Erica Lovell, Jay James-Moody and Rachael Beck. Photos – Scott Clare
Never let tall buildings block the view of your dreams. A mantra for a struggling artist in the big city, perhaps, but in the Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s new musical Ordinary Days, it resonates with universal themes.
This is a clever, witty, entertaining piece of musical theatre. It asks the audience to remember the simple things in life while reminding it of the challenges that lurk on every street corner.
Music and lyrics are by the talented American Adam Gwon, it was first produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York in 2009 before moving to London’s West End.
Gwon knows his audience and it was a bit like being part of a club that understands the frustrations of finding a decent coffee, negotiating the inexplicable floor plan of a museum or gallery and moving away from the city centre to find an affordable two-bedder. After all, Sydneysiders are not so different from their New York counterparts, are they?
However, the self-deprecating lyrics, tight direction from Grace Barnes and wonderful performances by the four actors, rescue it from smugness.
Ordinary Days tells the story of four young New Yorkers whose lives intersect as they search for love and their place in the world.
Rachael Beck’s Claire allows boyfriend Jason (Michael Falzon) to move in to her small apartment but finds the distance between them has nothing to do with geography.
Their search for love is complicated in the hands of these two experienced performers but the big numbers especially Beck’s finale I’ll Be Here is swamped by the strength of other songs including Gotta Get Out. Not a bad problem to have but a little more light and shade in the musical score would have bumped up the drama.
Their love story is ostensibly the showpiece but the characters of Warren (Jay James-Moody) and Deb (Erica Lovell) are so engaging and recognizable that they threaten to steal the show.
James-Moody is endearing as the struggling artist and Lovell is laugh-out-loud funny as the angry, self-absorbed graduate student. Her Dear Professor Thompson was a standout.
James Browne’s simple set with mobile tables and stools worked well in creating the changing spaces with minimum fuss for the actors.
The show is part of James-Moody’s Squabbalogic series which seeks to bring an alternative musical theatre experience to Australian audiences according to the program notes.
“We like to hunt down those quirky intimate pieces that might be neglected by the main stages…..but have connected in some profound way with audiences.” Ordinary Days is one of those gems.
Squabbalogic in partnership with Darlinghurst Theatre Company present
Music & Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Director Grace Barnes
Venue: Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 19 Greenknowe Ave Potts Point
Dates: 19 January – 19 February 2012
Tickets: $38 Adult, $33 Student Conc., $33 Senior, $33 Groups of 10+
Bookings: www.darlinghursttheatre.com | (02) 8556 9987