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Ordinary Days full of warmth and wit at Rosemary Branch

Ordinary DaysAs the raindrops fell on the pavement and the rooftops the audience settled themselves in a small theatre pub called The Rosemary Branch. It seemed our moods were as miserable as the weather, trying to bring some warmth into our bodies.

Our frontal view were boxes and there were lots of them, nothing painted on them or stuck on them, just plain cardboard boxes. The back of the stage was filled with stuck on coloured A5 pieces of paper that had sentences written on some of them. A young man walks onto the stage, which I presumed was our Musical Director, Patrick Stockbridge, for the night, I presumed right. With so many boxes covering the whole of the small stage and leaving little space for anything else, I wasn’t expecting a full blown 32 piece orchestra. I presumed obviously right. It’s quite amusing to call someone a Musical Director when there is no one to direct apart from her/himself. Throughout the evening Patrick Stockbridge and his piano, prove to be masters in handling what seems an easy but complex score. Throughout the show you can hear the composer/lyricist and playwright Adam Gwon’s influences and that might give you a clue how complex this musical is.

Directed by Natalia Scorer, with depth, creativity and understanding, she uses the boxes well and these boxes have a lot of work to do throughout the evening. They were, New York, a flat, a museum, a cab, a famous coffee shop, and so much more. The actors handling them as it was part of their character’s lives. It makes one realise how little we value boxes, we even end up in one. Just a look at the programme makes one realise that this production has little or no budget. Apart from that the actors probably won’t be paid and little or no PR. It might have been a good thing because it probably made this little production the more charming and creative, and frankly, that’s all that this show needs… apart from the good score, book, lyrics and of course actors and an accompanist.

Ordinary Days tells the story of four youths in New York. Warren, played by Christopher Keating with such truth and innocence that you just wanted to give him a big hug, is an aspiring artist who is flat broke and cat sitting for an established painter who is in jail. During the day he keeps himself busy by handing out coloured leaflets with sayings on them. Deb, cheeky and bigger than life played by Katie Brennan, a grad student who has lost her thesis notes on Virginia Woolf. Warren, a collector of objects found on the street, finds the book and emails Deb to meet up at the metropolitan museum of art or The Met for short, to hand over her thesis which he found on the street. Jason, played by Alexander Parker, who gives a very human and beautifully underplayed touch to his character, and although his voice isn’t as strong (in the loud kind of sense) his high notes are so beautiful and clear. Jason is moving in with his girlfriend Claire, played touchingly and with reality by Katriona Perrett (She needs to watch the boxes though, she doesn’t want to knock off the empire state building). Soon it becomes clear that living together isn’t that easy. While Jason tries to tell Claire he loves her no matter what their differences, and Warren tries to show Deb the beauty of friendship. Both Claire and Deb see life differently.

All four fresh out of school actors know how to work with the clever yet complex material and give such authenticity to how it is to live in a city. It’s not easy living in a city, no matter what age. This is very much a show of monologues, yet there is so much warmth and unanimity that they have on stage together with a hidden Patrick Stockbridge it gives a feeling I am missing in the West End. I admit, this 41-year-old big guy got emotional at times. If you, like Adam Gwon, love the works of Jason Robert Brown, William Finn, John LaChiusa, Andrew Lippa, John Bucchino or the godfather of the chamber musical Stephen Sondheim, than make your way to the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Go and see this heart-warming show which is full of love and friendship. You will be glad you did.

4 stars

 

Review by Danny Reyntiens

Atomicus Entertainment presents ORDINARY DAYS by Adam Gwon
Directed by Natalia Scorer. Musical Direction by Patrick Stockbridge
Cast: Katie Brennan. Christopher Keating. Alexander Parker. Katriona Perrett

How come my picture’s something
So if everyone’s got a
Big picture,
That I still have yet to see?

Atomicus Entertainment returns to the Rosemary Branch to deliver this refreshingly honest and funny musical about making real connections in the city that never sleeps (but probably should at some point.)

When Deb loses her most precious possession – the notes to her graduate thesis – she unwittingly starts a chain of events that turns the ordinary days of four New Yorkers into something extraordinary. Told through a series of intricately connected songs and vignettes, Ordinary Days is an original musical about growing up through a score of vibrant and memorable songs, their experiences ring startlingly true to life. Ordinary Days is an original musical for anyone who’s ever struggled to appreciate the simple things in a complex place. With equal doses of humour and poignancy, it celebrates stopping to find beauty in the rush of city life.

The Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Road, London, N1 3DT
www.rosemarybranch.co.uk
Atomicus Entertainment
18th – 28th February, 2015

Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Natalia Scorer
Produced by Rebecca Targett
Musical Direction by Patrick Stockbridge
Production Assistant – Naomi Pelkiewicz

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