By Andy Dillehay
Ordinary Days, Community Players, Friday September 9, 2022 7:30PM.
The Beatrice Community Players kicked off their 2022-2023 mainstage season with a charming, heartfelt, and hilarious musical, Ordinary Days, written by Adam Gwon. Ordinary Days takes place over the course of a few ordinary days, following four characters as their lives intertwine. Swift and sweet, Ordinary Days was anything but ordinary. Running at 80 minutes and packed with 19 musical numbers, this production is a reflection of the fast paced world we live in today.
Ordinary Days first four numbers introduce each of the four characters. Warren, played by the bright and energetic Connor Husa, is an artist who makes a living by cat-sitting for a prominent, but incarcerated, artist. Though Warren lives in the hustle and bustle of New York City, he professes to feeling invisible. Warren’s typical day is disrupted when he discovers a leather bound book. It appears to be old, but the handwriting looks new. In it, he finds an email address, presumably of the owner of the notebook.
Next, we meet Deb, a tightly wound graduate student working on her final dissertation, played by Elena Rinne. Rinne’s animated and honest performance connects with the audience. Her frustration is palpable as she realizes she has lost her notebook, filled with years of work. While she’s crafting an email to her professor for an extension, a lifeline is thrown. She receives a message from a stranger that her notebook has been found.
Lastly, we’re introduced to Claire and Jason, played by Natalie Frahm and Brandon Clark. As Jason is in the process of moving into Claire’s apartment, Claire struggles to part with things from her past. Clark’s comedic timing had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, while Frahm’s sincere performance pulled at the heartstrings.
As the story progresses, Warren and Deb strike up an unexpected friendship. It starts off rocky, as Deb’s impatience conflicts with Warren’s amiable nature. However, they each find valuable lessons to be learned from one another. The chemistry between Husa and Rinne is rich. They play really well off of one another and have a genuine connection.
With the stress of moving in together, conflict arises between Claire and Jason. What begins as a cut-and-dry couple’s quarrel develops into a major crossroads. Jason is eager for their relationship to progress, yet Claire has reservations. Her fear of relinquishing the past clouds the possibility of the future. Frahm and Clark both find the humanity and depth of their characters.
Under Jamie Ulmer’s direction, the cast executes a solid production. The clever staging and use of the space is impressive. With the fast-paced nature of the show, Ulmer utilizes his cast to move the scenery, an effective method to keep the momentum building. The transitions were as seamless as Beyonce’s RENAISSANCE, which is no easy feat.
Ulmer also served as the scenic and lighting designer. The saturated and colorful lighting washing over a bright, modern rendering of New York City was a beautiful scape for the actors to thrive in. It’s evident that Ulmer has a breadth of talents. It must be noted that his ability for lighting design is unmatched; he is a true artist.
Ashley Hothan’s costume, hair, and makeup design allowed the actors to fully embody their characters. Her designs were more than just looks; they also played a role in the arc of each character. Additionally, Hothan served as stage manager, also proving to be an individual of many talents.
Under the music direction of the legendary Jan Malone, the actors beautifully executed their tunes. Malone, arguably the best piano player in the area, was a one-woman band, tickling the ivories nonstop for 80 minutes. Although she’s not seen on stage, she deserved her own standing ovation.
With themes of finding your true passion, making connections, and following your heart, Ordinary Days is a contemporary and relatable piece. In a time where we’ve all been lacking human connection, this musical inspires one to step out of their comfort zone. This production set a high bar for the rest of the 2022-2023 season. Based on this performance, this will certainly be a season to remember.
If you go: Ordinary Days runs September 9-18, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30PM and Sundays at 2PM. For ticket information, visit https://www.beatricecommunityplayers.com.
Andy Dillehay is a writer/actor/artist from Lincoln, Nebraska, having been involved with theatre since he was 7 years old.
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