Ordinary Days, more than just an ordinary evening in the theatre

SLOC opened their 95th season with Ordinary Days. The first live performance in over 18 months for the venerable elder statesperson of community musical theater in the Capital Region, it does not disappoint. Ordinary Days with music and lyrics by the American composer Adam Gwon is a sung-through musical that follows four characters around New York City and how their lives inexorably intertwine. For those not familiar with the term, a sung-through musical is a piece in which music is the show with very little or no spoken dialogue. How appropriate for a Light Opera Company to choose.

 Gwon’s music follows the lives of two couples, Warren and Deb and Jason and Claire. 

Warren and Deb become friends after Warren finds the notebook with all of Claire’s notes for her graduate school thesis that she lost. Warren tends to see the world through rose colored glasses and his glass is always half full… or rather three quarters full at least. Deb is a bundle of neurosis and always questions everything around her, the motives of others and in fact, her very existence.  A less likely twosome would be hard to find. 

Claire and Jason are a couple in love who just always seems to be one step out of sync with one another. Each is searching for an elusive something to make their lives complete, though while Jason feels he has found it with Claire, she, on the other hand, is not so certain.

One gets a sense that Gwon is somewhat of a Steven Sondheim wanna be.  The music and the premise of the show are quite reminiscent of Sondheim’s Company and perhaps more closely, Side by Side by Sondheim. The music sounds like it wants to be Sondheim’s and the plotline threads in much the same way as the two referenced shows. While Mr. Sondheim may find imitation to be the sincerest form of flattery, the show falls short of his nuanced lyrics and music. 

That being said, the cast does an admirable job with the material they have been given to work with. Nik Gatz is Warren, a geeky sort who is bouncy, all over the place and moves around the stage like he might have silly putty in his legs. His comfort on the stage is more than apparent, his voice is strong and he has wonderful comic timing. 

Michael Camelo’s Jason is a more buttoned up, up tight guy, looking for love and assuming he has found it with Claire as he moves into her apartment and looks forward to beginning their lives together in earnest. Again, Camelo’s voice is strong, vibrant and most powerful.

The evening however belongs to the ladies in the cast. Dashira Cortes as the conflicted Claire, not certain where she is going or how she wound up in what she perceives as her predicament, is given the role of tearing up the stage with angst, torment and a sense of how did I get here and where do I go from here. She has songs such as Let Things Go and a moving duet with Camelo entitled I’m Trying, which pretty much wraps up their relationship in two words. Her voice is powerful, strong and fills the theater with emotion and a sense of loss. She owns the stage whenever she has the opportunity. 

Christine Meglino’s Deb is all the tension, fear of life, and anxiety that one person can wrap up in a comic package. She dominates the stage every moment she is given the spotlight.  Her comic timing, asides to the audience with her facial expressions and another powerhouse of a voice is an absolute delight to watch and listen to.

The show is probably not the greatest show ever written, but it is an enjoyable evening of theater and the four SLOC veterans are engaging and a pleasure to watch on the stage.  The cast is rounded out by Regan Zlotnick and Ryan Fuchs who are given moments of shtick and make the most out of the little they have to do. They round out an accomplished cast in welcoming season 95 to SLOC.

Another SLOC  veteran is director Marc Christopher who does triple duty as Director, Scenic Designer and Artist. He gets the most dramatically and comically from the cast while making great use of the two-level stage. The set is simple and becomes a myriad of locations able with the assistance of Matthew Mascelli’s lighting design. Christopher’s artwork on the stage is even for sale to the general public looking for something more permanent to take home after the show’s run than just a program.  Maria Germain’s musical direction shows exactly how she is able to get the most from her performers. She admirably handles accompanying duties as the sole person in the “pit”. Clearly, this is a cast and crew that is loaded full of talent and happy to share that talent with the audience on many levels. 

For more information check out the SLOC website www.sloctheatre.org or call the box office at 518-730-7370.

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