MCA Musical Hits All The Right Notes With 'Ordinary Days'
A musical of four New York twenty-somethings, "Ordinary Days" (produced by the Media, Culture and the Arts Program in association with The King's Players) was equally powerful, emotional and deeply personal.
The lights open on Warren, played by Stevie Hernandez (‘20), an unsuccessful pamphlet distributor on the busy streets of NYC. The type haranguing New Yorkers to take TimeOut New York on Wednesdays as they exit the Subway. After 50 attempts, there is not one taker. As Warren gets flustered he wearily holds up one last meager pamphlet, a fast-paced walker grabs it and rushes past.
This opening is real New York. At one's wits end and wanting to give in, a reminder why one puts up with the crowds, the cost, the difficulty of an inhospitable life here. Warren’s New York hope dims to a pilot light, then the flame reignites.
Next is Jason – played by the jovial and multitalented Kaleb Batman ('18) – just as he is moving into his girlfriend’s apartment. Jason is living on cloud nine, pleased he will no longer have to walk 14 blocks from his apartment to hers every day. He has found a person he truly loves, and cannot wait to spend more time with her.
Enter Claire, Jason’s girlfriend played by the incredible Julia Keesler ('17). Claire enters in the middle of a fit, as she must move her stuff around and get rid of some trinkets of to accommodate Jason’s belongings. Both must downsize, but it seems Claire was particularly unprepared for moving day. It's a place many New Yorkers are familiar with; making a commitment and then later coming to terms with how one's life will change.
While Jason and Claire reminisce over old memories, Deb enters, a graduate-level “Big-Picture” student — played by cheerful singer and King’s Players faithful Abbey Rose ('17). Always moving toward her idealized self, Deb might just get there if she could only figure out where exactly “there” was. Deb has a laptop on the fritz, a graduate program she is not fond of, and a thesis proposal upcoming. Deb loses her book and all her notes, which is the impetus for her meeting cheery artist-to-be Warren.
Warren believes that his finding her book is a fairy-tale in the making; but she would rather get back to work. He shows her his favorite painting and tries to connect with Deb, another wandering New Yorker.
All of the actors played their parts professionally. There was no noticeable note out of tune or step out of place. In addition, the characters developed in front of the audience. Actions such as exiting a taxi with 12 blocks left to walk in the rain while they are already late, or losing something irreplaceable and hitting the FREAK-OUT button. Each moment happening on stage was a place New Yorkers had been, an experience New Yorkers know.
Accompaniment on piano by King's musical theater lecturer and musical director Virginia Pike was flawless, all of the singers and pianists kept time diligently and the musical score added to the depth of the characters and storylines immensely.
The play makes one laugh at Deb’s subway experience – she’s drooled upon – and reminisce about family vacations while Claire shuffled through old pictures; the characters bringing out empathy, joys and tears alike from the audience.
Warren throws his colored pamphlets off a roof, yet its significance does not click until minutes later: Claire was celebrating her anniversary of a fateful Tuesday morning, when her husband stopped into work and was never seen again. So what makes an ordinary day worth living? Finding love and a sharing loss in a post-9/11 world is hard, but, as one flyer handed out by a cast member reminds: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Correction: An earlier version of the article credited the play as produced by The King's Players.
Correction: An earlier version of the article attributed Patterson Thompson as the Piano Accompanist.