Watching the opening night of Ordinary Days was bittersweet, with the ADC two days away from closing for the rest of term. My heart goes out to all the student productions and hard work of the ADC management in putting on theatre in this difficult time, and Ordinary Days is certainly not one to miss on its final night (tonight!).
Ordinary Days is a musical filled with a rollercoaster of emotions, following the lives of four ordinary people living in New York. The plot follows an unlikely friendship between Warren, a young artist whose main job is cat-sitting, and a grad student, Deb, who becomes distressed after losing her thesis notebook. Their portrayals, by Tom Baarda and Ella Lane respectively, were full of energy and enthusiasm. The actors showcased incredible vocal skills, commanding the stage with powerful solos and seamless duets.
The plot also follows a dysfunctional couple, Claire and Jason, who face challenges when moving in together. Maddie Smith and Gabriel Jones had great chemistry, the classic duet ‘Fine’ being a particular highlight at the end of Act One. They provided perfect comic timing which was clearly well-rehearsed. Smith’s powerful voice and emotional performance carried some of the more serious songs of the musical, complemented by the soft and smooth vocals of Jones.
Overall, the musical was thoroughly entertaining, heart-warming and funny, with moments of moving seriousness. It was executed professionally and purposefully by director Amber De Ruyt and their production team, including just the right amount of movement, props (e.g. eye-catching umbrellas) and an incredible use of the stage. Credit must also go to Jonathon Powell’s set design and those who brought it to life, for an incredible aesthetic of New York, and the fitting use of split stage.
Stand-out moments include ‘Saturday at the Met’ – an energetic number where the characters’ lives intertwine, showcasing the strong talent of all four cast members. Others include Baarda’s opening number ‘One by One by One’, which shone with enthusiasm and great comedic timing, Lane’s pitch perfect vocals and easy top notes during ‘Dear Professor Thompson’, and Smith’s emotional ‘I’ll Be Here’, which could definitely be a tear-jerker. But there are so many, I can’t list them all here.
De Ruyt’s direction made social distancing between couples seem natural, particularly making use of the various levels of the set. Watching through the livestream, this occasionally led to moments where the camera angles cut off the heads of some performers. This was quickly fixed and easily forgiven by the high standard of the musical, with particular credit due to the talented one-person band and musical director Joseph Giles, whose music kept the show moving forward. Overall, an entertaining, high-quality musical, and one not to miss tonight.