Passion Theatre Group begins its second season with the musical Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon. Director Chad William Baker chose to stage this intimate musical in three-quarter thrust (where the audience sits on three sides of the stage), adding to the intimacy. Staging a show in three-quarter thrust presents unique challenges for the director and actors. The audience is at risk of missing some of the action on the stage. The challenge for the director is to minimize that as much as possible. Director Chad William Baker and the cast were able to create a moving production in this stage orientation.
Ordinary Days features four characters - Warren, Deb, Jason, and Claire - living in New York. At the beginning of the show, Jason is moving in with Claire, Warren is handing out inspirational fliers, and Deb arrives in New York to go to graduate school. As the show proceeds, Claire and Jason go through the challenges of any relationship. Jason wants to commit to a life together with Claire, but Claire keeps her emotional distance. Deb and Warren meet through happenstance, and although the relationship begins roughly, they find a happy ending.
Baker rises to the directing challenge of staging for three quarter thrust and creates several nice moments. At one point, Claire and Jason face each other on stage, but the singing and action reveals the true distance between them. Baker also adds wonderful color to the show with a shower of fliers. He does push some of the action into the corners too much, but the blocking overall is sound.
Spencer Beyerlein plays Warren, the would-be bohemian without much going on. Warren lives for the moment, spreading the message of positivity. He eschews the “big picture.” Beyerlein begins the show and sets a fun and playful mood. Beyerlein does the best job among the cast in his portrayal of character through song.
Erica Close does a good job playing the reserved and closed-off Claire. She provides the two most moving moments of the show: first, when she is in the cab singing about how she needs to get out of both the cab and the relationship, and then again at the climax of the show. Close’s restraint with Claire brings balance to the other, high energy characters.
Deb, played by Janelle Bublitz, is determined to succeed and has everything figured out, including a five-year plan: her “big picture.” She thinks she knows what she wants until she meets the free-spirited Warren. Bublitz brings the strongest vocals to the show. She uses both her vocal and physical skills to embody the high-strung Deb in a clear and convincing way.
Jonah Conner plays the eager-to-commit Jason. He knows what he wants, but he also knows that Claire doesn’t want the same thing. He fears his unrequited love will never end even as he prepares to move out. Conner plays Jason as a bit of a goofball, which is both endearing and playful. He has some slight lapses in pitch, but overall a quality vocal performance.
The costume design communicated each character effectively. Nice touches include Warren’s piano keys socks and the variety of scarves for Deb. The simple set includes a black bench which served the space well.
The sound design works against the intimate staging of the play. The volume of the music overwhelmed the audience, necessitating microphones for the actors, but the mics eliminated any intimacy that was gained by the three-quarter thrust seating. In addition, the mics occasionally would go out, taking the audience, ever so briefly, out of the action on stage.
The three-quarter thrust staging created a very affecting experience. I sat to one of the sides, and during the big moments, when I was most into the action, I would see others across from me equally moved. Ordinary Days is a funny, heartfelt, charming, and interesting experience.
Ordinary Days runs Saturday January 19th at 7:30pm and Sunday, January 20th at 3pm at Bullock Creek Auditorium, 1420 S. Badour St. in Midland. Ticket are $15 for adults and $12 for students if purchased online at passiontheatre.ticketleap.com or $20/$15 at the door.