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Home Arts and Culture  Out of the ’Ordinary’
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Wednesday, February 2,2011

Out of the ’Ordinary’

by Paul Wozniak

"Ordinary Days" by Adam Gwon is a sentimental, often funny Off-Broadway script that wears its influences on its sleeve.


Gwon’s music begs comparisons to Jonathan Larson ("Rent") and Stephen Sondheim ("Sweeney Todd," "Into the Woods"). Unlike Larson and Sondheim, Gwon’s songs lack any memorable hooks. But they do serve the stories well. offering several textured numbers with glowing harmonies. First-rate direction by Chad Badgero and an outstanding cast make "Days" accessible to small-towners, even as it focuses on big-city struggles.


Set in the present, "Days" follows four young New Yorkers seeking connection and direction in school and marriage.


A couple moves into an apartment together and out of the honeymoon stage, while a college student meets a young man after he discovers her missing notebook. The fact that the two couples never meet can be seen poetically as commentary on bigcity anonymity or, cynically, as two unrelated stories to fill a play.


Jason (Rusty Broughton) and Claire (Amanda Whitehead) are lovebirds who struggle to find common interests. Broughton
and Whitehead have Broadwayready voices and the defined features of
leading actors. Throughout much of the first half, Broughton shares
little chemistry with Whitehead, partly due to plot points not to be
revealed here. Consequently, their story remains flat until real
conflict finally arises and the two argue about wine and everything
else. Their showdown stands as one of the show’s strongest scenes.


Meanwhile,
Joseph Quick, as Warren, hands out flyers with inspirational sayings to
people like Deb, played by Leah Gerstel. Quick plays Warren with his
trademark blend of na´vetÚ and nerdy sincerity. His best moments come near the end, as his character begins to realize his potential.


Deb
is the idiosyncratic cynic who fantasizes about strangling her life
coach while ordering complex lattes. Gerstel shares the stage nicely
with Quick, who offers his lines up like soft pitches that she
responsively bats out of the room.


Gerstel
is a theatrical force to be reckoned with, showing off the dexterity of
her face as well as her voice. Gerstel’s level of control is astounding
to watch as she zings from wall to wall, carrying entire scenes and
songs with manic flair.


Music director Edric Haleen keeps up with the cast, fingers deftly dancing on the keys, providing perfect, unobtrusive support.


’Ordinary Days’


Peppermint
Creek


Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St., Lansing


8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3;
Friday, Feb. 4, and Saturday, Feb. 5


$15 all seats


(517) 927-3016


www.peppermintcreek.org


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