Two Interesting Pairs in Brief Music on the Small Stage
Ordinary Days could be anywhere. The set by Scenic Designer Burt Gross is simple and elegant with functional pieces that suggest the skyline of a major city. There are specific references in the script that firmly set the show in New York City, but there’s so little reference to it in production design that the setting scarcely seems to matter. Four characters talk of life in a big city. More than anything else, though, this is the story of those four people trying to connect-up with each other and the world around them. It’s got a quiet intimacy about it that lets the music resonate into moody emotionalism. Less than two hours and no intermission make it feel like one extended song with many moments and movements.
The brief musical plays out in two pairs. One pair is a young couple just moving-in together. Jason and Claire are genuinely excited to be journeying into a life together, but Jason feels a distance and Claire feels perhaps a bit afraid. The two are played by Billy Krager and Beth Leinss. Leinss has an admirable ability to find definition between the character’s joy and insecurity. Krager has a charismatic excitement in the role that is tempered by frustration at the emotional distance that serves as the central conflict between them.
The other pair has Dan Tellez playing a man looking after an apartment. He’s passing out flyers to strangers on the street looking for a deeper connection with a city. Occasionally things get discarded. He picks-up a lost notebook that turns out to belong to a restless grad student named Deb. She’s played by Jade Taylor in a very promising performance. Taylor has really clever comic instincts in the role of a very witty person lost in her own momentum. Tellez has a remarkable warmth in the role of a much more casual dreamer of an individual. The clever thing about the interaction here is that playwright/composer Adam Gwon firmly avoids any romantic chemistry between the two. It would have been far too easy to balance out two pairings with two romances, but Gwon is going for something far deeper here and All-In under the direction of J.T. Backes does a really good job of bringing that to the stage. The dynamic between Tellez’ sweetness and Taylor’s bitterness is staggeringly charming and idiosyncratic.
All-In Productions’ staging of Ordinary Days runs through Apr. 3 at the Tenth Street Theatre on 628 N 10th St. For more ticket reservations and further information, visit All-In online.