Set in New York City, Ordinary Days follows the lives of Claire, Jason, Warren and Deb, four young people that are facing everyday challenges and finding the beauty in the ordinary. I spoke to the cast of the show; Kirby Hughes (Claire), Alistair Frederick (Jason) Nora Perone (Deb), Neil Cameron (Warren) and director Jen Coles about the core message of the show and why it’s such a profound musical.
Jen Coles was initially attracted to direct the production because of the strong narrative of the score, she said: “It’s incredibly well written and witty. Each character has so much heart and a lot of their struggles are relatable.” The intimate setting of the London Theatre Workshop is ideal for this production as it allows the audience to really connect with the characters.
Coles approached the production creatively, she said: “I decided that although some versions of the show are “stand and deliver,” I wanted to use movement and seamless transitions between scenes to really propel the narrative. I wanted a movement-based show that stopped to appreciate the quieter moments before picking up again. Because of that, you get a nice difference between when the city starts and when it stops.”
The musical itself tells very ordinary stories, but the core message behind that is so important. “Hopefully, people will leave with a positive and optimistic view of their past, present and future circumstances, and to go looking for the joy in every moment,” Jen explained. “Ordinary Days shows audiences that although life is difficult (and often strange), and it may feel that life is purposeless- but all it takes is one moment, one day or one person to turn it all around. Keep looking for the beautiful.”
Bringing an abundance of humour to the piece is Nora Perone with her performance of Deb, she said: “Deb is kind of your quintessential millennial. She hasn’t found what she wants to do, so she’s using her graduate degree to put off having to deal with real life. She’s intelligent and witty and passionate, but she can’t figure out where to direct all her energy.” Meeting the awkward young Warren, he opens her up to seeing the bigger picture in life. “Warren has several layers that can be seen in his journey,” Neil Cameron said about his character. “It’s about being in the mindset of thinking that your life must dramatically change but you don’t know where to begin. I feel this is relatable to most individuals as we have may been in that situation at some point in our lives.
“Ordinary Days sends a really powerful message of love.”
In a parallel storyline, young couple Claire and Jason are facing problems, due to Claire’s inability to let go of her past. “Jason is a lot fun and has a lot of positive energy. When playing Jason, I really have to get myself into his mind-set. He’s really just a big kid and he loves to love. But under the surface he is very unsure about where he is and what he’s doing. He is massively reliant on Claire’s attention, approval and affection,” said Alistair Frederick.
“For me Ordinary Days is a story about love and passion. The play gives us a small glimpse into the life for 4 very normal Americans who are all either especially passionate about something or are battling with a love or passion of their own.” His relationship with Claire is a difficult one, as she is dealing with the loss of her husband. She sings the beautiful and heart-wrenching number I’ll Be Here. “I feel we are singing storytellers and our job is to tell the story,” she said. “A whole group of people can see the same show and take different things from it. Everyone has had different life experiences so they relate to different moments.”
It’s a show that has a superb balance of compelling, emotive and highly comical moments. Alistair emphasises the importance of the emotion of the characters: “As an audience, we can see that these four people are living parallel lives. It shows that we are not in fact alone at all, and are surrounded by people who are often feeling similar if not the same as us.”
Ordinary Days not only boasts a beautiful score, but each character has real depth and heart. Jen Coles explained: “It’s very unique in its construction. Told through a series of detailed events and songs, it manages to provide a small but engaging and beautiful story that is humorous and moving with a core message of finding the beautiful in the smallest and most unexpected things.”
Read my ★★★★★ review here.
Ordinary Days in on at the London Theatre Workshop until the 17th of June before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe. Information and tickets can be found here.