BWW Review: ORDINARY DAYS at Tallgrass Theatre Company - Find Beauty in the Ordinary
Sometimes, what seems like an insignificant moment, can have an amazing impact. "Ordinary Days" by Adam Gwon, this year's Dream Project for Tallgrass Theatre Company, asked us to take a look at the small moments in our life and see that they are anything by ordinary. While the show may have closed on February 3, this show will have a lasting impact on every audience member that saw it. I know it will for me. If you missed this performance, then you missed a production that there was nothing ordinary about.
So many times with musicals, we get used to seeing shows full of spectacle that is fun for the eye to watch, but many times the spectacle is covering up weaknesses somewhere else in the show. The music and lyrics to this show are strong enough that you don't need to rely on the spectacle and can do a more bare bone show. This requires a director who has a vision from the beginning. Megan Helmers was truly up to this task. Her take on the show was very evident from the beginning. The show only calls for a cast of 4, but this show had a cast of 8. The additional 4 were used to have choreographed movement to help with telling the story. Megan's background as a Cloris Award winning choreographer helped her vision come to life. I also appreciated how she used only a few boxes, and a few props to tell the full story of show. It let us in the audience have the show come to life in our own minds.
Another technical area that stood out to me was Erica Spiller's and Ty Klobassa's lighting design. I appreciated how they chose to use LED lights to give opposing colors to each side of the stage. There were multiple times their choice of colors played into the emotional context of the show. While the lighting could have easily been over the top and distracting with this show, they did a great job of picking the most important parts of the show to enhance the staging with lighting.
With a minimalistic take on all areas of the technical parts of the show, it allowed the actors interpretations of their characters to shine through the show. Each of the actors brought their own spin to the characters. In watching the show, it felt to me that the show had almost been written for Charlie Reese who played Jason. The music fit was a strong fit for his voice and the lyrics brought a very natural acting performance. Through his performance, you could see his characters joy as his relationship with Taylor Anne Weaver's character Claire move forward, and see the devastation of their relationship falling apart towards the end of the show.
Two of the lead actors, Sydney Marian Allen and Keaton Lane, made their Tallgrass debut as Deb and Warren. Their youthfulness played well with their characters. It was easy to believe that their characters, as different as they were, could develop a respect and friendship as the show went on.
While all the performances were strong, the performance that struck me the most was Taylor Ann Weaver as Claire. Going into the show the only song I knew was "I'll Be Here." I was introduced to the song while listening to Audra McDonald in concert, and knew after that this was a show I wanted to see. From the beginning of the show, you could see her struggle with her characters relationship with Jason, but not knowing the context of the song in the show, I was not prepared for the song to explain why she was struggling to commit to the relationship. It made the song even more poignant than the first time I heard it.
Writing this, I wish I could tell you to rush out and get tickets to see this show, but unfortunately due to weather issues, I wasn't able to see this amazing show until closing night. If it is ever playing in the area again, make sure to get tickets to see this amazing show. Also, keep an eye on Tallgrass Theatre Company and the work they are doing. Tallgrass Theatre's next show "Eat Your Heart Out" runs from March 29-April 14. You can find more out about Tallgrass Theatre Company by visiting their website at www.tallgrasstheatre.org