Ordinary Days
Ordinary Days
Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon
From one of musical theatre's most exciting new composers comes ORDINARY DAYS, a refreshingly honest and funny musical about making real connections in the city that never sleeps (but probably should at some point.) ORDINARY DAYS tells the story of four young New Yorkers whose lives intersect as they search for fulfillment, happiness, love and cabs. 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 humor and poignancy, it celebrates how 8.3 million individual stories combine in unexpected ways to make New York City such a unique and extraordinary home.
Description Tags: Musical ComedySocial ThemesContemporary.
Cast Size: No ChorusSmall (1-10). Vocal Demands: Moderate. Dance Requirements: Minimal. Good For: High SchoolAmateur/CommunityProfessional TheatreOther.
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About The Show

News for Ordinary Days
History for Ordinary Days

Production Info


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News for Ordinary Days

Adam Gwon composer of ORDINARY DAYS has won the Kleban Prize for Excellence  in Musical Theatre Writing for his work as a lyricist.  read more

R&H Theatricals will begin accepting applications for professional productions; CD release will coincide. read more

Tony Award-winning team Ahrens and Flaherty discuss up-and-coming composer/lyricist Adam Gwon and his new musical ORDINARY DAYS. read more

OKLAHOMA! was shot in the rare format Todd-AO. On April 10th, for the first time ever, a fully restored version of the historic film will premiere at the TCM Film Festival. President Ted Chapin gives his take on this beautiful restoration. Read more →

CARRIE the musical offers some unique challenges to theaters. How do you represent the destruction at the prom? Do you show blood in liquid form or using lights? How do you show Carrie's telekinetic powers? Read more →
“I’ve got a bottle of Canadian Club in the room.  Come on up and have a drink.” Not exactly words you would automatically think of coming from Peter Pan or Maria von Trapp.  But come they did, from Mary Martin.  She had just received the first Richard Rodgers Award from the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, which had been celebrated at a fantastic garden party in one of Pittsburgh’s posh neighborhoods.  I took a ride back to the hotel with the honoree, and that’s what she said to me as the car pulled up to the William Penn Hotel.  The answer was simple – “Sure.”  So up we went – Mary Martin, her assistant Susan Grushkin, and me.  And out came the Canadian Club.  Read more →

Trivia for Ordinary Days

October 25, 2009

In 2009, ORDINARY DAYS premiered at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre in New York, as part of Roundabout Theatre Company's Underground season.

December 06, 1979

The birthday of Adam Gwon, writer and composer of the new musical ORDINARY DAYS

 Press for Ordinary Days

  • Interviews
  • Articles
Upstage, November 30, 2009
Interview with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Adam Gwon
Written By: Roundabout Theatre Company

Ordinary Days is an original through-sung musical about four young New Yorkers who have a love/hate affair with New York City. On these pages you will find interviews with the composer/lyricist and director of the production as well as their biographies.

This is the third production of Roundabout Underground, an initiative launched in 2007 to introduce and cultivate artists in Roundabout’s 62-seat Black Box Theatre, at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 West 46th Street, NYC, NY, 10036). Prior productions include Speech & Debate (2007) and The Language of Trees (2008).

Interview with the Composer and Lyricist: Adam Gwon

What made you decide you wanted to write for musical theatre?

I studied classical piano from a very young age, and as a teenager got involved in local theater and liked it enough to attend a high school for the arts in Baltimore, where I grew up. Strangely, all through high school, I studied music and theater on parallel tracks with little intersection—theater during the day at school, and piano lessons at night. Thankfully I had a couple of theater teachers who were self-described Sondheim freaks, and they introduced me to his music and lyrics. (I even played ‘Franz’ in our high school production of Sunday in the Park with George. Yes, that’s right. A high school production of Sunday in the Park with George. It rocked.) But I didn’t really start writing properly until I got to college, and even that happened as sort of a fluke. I came to NYU to study theater thinking I’d focus more on performance. NYU has a rule that you can’t audition for shows as a freshman but the rule doesn’t say anything about writing music for shows as a freshman, so I started doing that, and quickly became the go-to guy to score plays at NYU. All the while, I had a brilliant, brilliant musical theater performance teacher (whose class I landed in through a fluke as well, but I won’t go into that) who was also a composer. Tragically, he passed away and at the end of the year there was a concert of his songs as a memorial to him. It was the first time we had ever heard his music and it was breathtaking. Right after that, I spent the summer up at the Hangar Theater in Ithaca, NY, and there was a call for songs for a cabaret. So I wrote my first song – a musicalization of the James Joyce story “Araby,” of all things—and that’s how I started. I came back to NYU and let the writing thing take over. My sophomore year, Audra McDonald’s debut CD came out, featuring composers like Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa, and Ricky Ian Gordon. That CD, and seeing Ricky Ian Gordon’s Dream True at the Vineyard Theater around the same

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time, were the final nails in the coffin as it were. Suddenly, I saw the incredible potential that musical theater had to tell a story and I was really drawn to harnessing that potential. So, I suppose it was a confluence of a lot of things that made me want to write for musical theater.

What inspired you to write Ordinary Days?

I like to think that the birth of Ordinary Days is a really good example of necessity being the mother of invention. A couple years ago, I landed a musical theater writing fellowship at the Dramatists Guild—it’s a program run by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty that gives young writers an outlet to develop new work. I had gotten this fellowship on my own, that is, without a collaborator (I usually collaborate with a playwright who writes the book of the musical), and, knowing this, I wanted to design a project that I knew could work with only my skill set in play. I started off just writing a couple songs to see where they would lead me and soon the whole piece came into focus in my mind. I’m a huge believer that form is born out of content, and so, because I knew I’d be stitching together a narrative told through individual songs and vignettes, I came up with this story about people struggling to make connections with each other and with the world around them. It was my thought that the audience would have to actively be connecting the dots of the story as they watched, since the story is essentially told in fragments, and I liked the idea of engaging the audience to make connections in a show about the importance of making connections. You get the idea.

Two other inspirations for the show were my own experiences being an aspiring twenty-something in New York City, and my favorite novel, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which I was re-reading at the time I wrote Ordinary Days. The seed that started the whole project was me feeling a little bit at sea with, well, how—and if—life worked itself out. As you can imagine, aspiring artists in New York are almost inevitably forced to stitch together a patchwork life. You’ve got your dayjob, your multitude of creative projects, your social life, your love life, your friends from work, from school, from shows, your family, and on and on, all seemingly leading in different directions. I felt like I was constantly bouncing from one very specific bubble of my daily life to the next, and the question I was asking as I wrote Ordinary Days was how do all these pieces add up? As I wrote, I think that question evolved to explore more than just the experiences of a twentysomething in New York, but it all started from a very real, personal place. And as for Mrs. Dalloway, well, I just love that book, and I’ll leave it to some astute audience members to try and spot my little homage to it in the show.

Which character or characters do you relate to most and why?

Of course I relate in some way to all of the characters in the show, but the one who’s most true to me is definitely Warren. To say Warren is a dreamer is a bit of an understatement. He’s an eternal optimist but he also uses that optimism to mask feelings of insecurity. He tends to live in a fantasy world and has a hard time reconciling that his real life isn’t anything like his fantasy. As a writer, that’s pretty much the headspace I live in every day—he tries to connect with the world by isolating himself, which is basically what writers get paid to do! But I do feel a very personal connection to all of the characters in the show. They all think they want something they see way off in the distance, but end up realizing that what they’re looking for is much closer and much simpler than they imagined. That’s an experience that resonates with me.

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Can you tell us a bit about the production history of the musical? Has it had workshops, readings, or other productions?

As I mentioned before, I wrote this piece during a fellowship at the Dramatists Guild, and after that it had a series of readings and workshops that led to its first production at Pennsylvania Centre Stage, which is the professional theater in residence at Penn State University. Thanks entirely to the internet, the show had a production in London at the Finborough Theatre (a British director stumbled upon my songs on MySpace), and the show was also a part of last year’s National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) showcase, which is how Roundabout discovered the piece. That showcase is an annual event where producers and artistic directors from all across the country come to check out new musicals, and it was an amazing stepping stone toward the life that the show has now. There was a production this past summer at Adirondack Theatre Festival upstate, also a result of the NAMT festival, and there are two other productions, at South Coast Rep in California and Human Race Theatre Company in Ohio, slated for this season. But I am beyond thrilled to have the show in New York City for many reasons—not the least of which is that New York City really is a fifth character in the show. I remember at NAMT they had a Q&A session with the writers and they asked us where we hoped the showcase would take our shows, and I felt very strongly that this show belonged in New York at some point. There is a lot in the show that people outside of New York relate to, but I think being a New Yorker will add a whole other level to an audience’s experience of it!

As a composer/lyricist/librettist whose work are you most influenced by?

It was those composers on Audra McDonald’s debut album that made me want to be a musical theater writer, and continue to inspire me to this day—particularly Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa, and Ricky Ian Gordon. They harnessed the storytelling power of music in ways I hadn’t heard before, which I thought was incredibly exciting. I’ve also worked really hard over the years to write lyrics that don’t suck, and for my money, there’s no better lyricist than Stephen Sondheim.

What are the challenges of writing a musical that is entirely sung through? Or do you see it as a song cycle?

I definitely think of Ordinary Days as a musical, and not a song cycle. For me, a song cycle is an evening of songs connected only by some thematic idea, and Ordinary Days is most certainly a narrative musical. There are four specific characters who take a journey over the course of the evening and we are following their stories. In knowing that I was going to be writing what is essentially a script-less musical, I think I embraced some of the challenges by marrying the structure to what the story is all about. That said, most of the re-writes I’ve done and am doing involve making sure the through-line of these characters’ stories is clear even though the manner of the telling is fragmented. I suppose one challenge is exactly how to stuff all the information you need in each scene within the limitations of a single song, but I didn’t really think of that so much as a challenge as part of the fun of it all. It also gave me the chance to write a lot of “story songs,” which I simply adore but don’t get to write a lot of in traditional book musicals, because a story song is essentially a little one-act play all on its own, and most musicals don’t afford you the opportunity to do that very often.

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What do you look for in a director and a musical director?

Any director or musical director (or any other type of artist) I want to work with has to have a real spirit of collaboration about them. Musical theater is an unbelievably collaborative art form, and as the writer, I spend a year doing work in a bubble, and really look forward to the time when the collaborative process breathes life into the piece. For directors on a new work, I think the ability to always look at the show as if he or she is looking at it for the first time is important, because you want the director to be a third eye as far as the clarity of the storytelling goes. And I like directors who embrace the theatricality of putting stories onstage. There’s a reason I write pieces for theater and not movies or TV, and I look for directors who like to exploit that theatricality in creative ways. I also love working with directors who have a really strong visual sense—I often start writing pieces with certain images in mind, and want a director who can bring those to life.

I think the best musical directors, for my work at least, are those who in performance really function as an actor in the scene—they are in the moment, responding to what’s going on onstage, ebbing and flowing and reacting just as an actor would. It’s much more exciting to watch a musical director be a dynamic part of the moment than to simply hear the score played by rote. I also like musical directors who are invested in storytelling, and whose work is always in support of what’s going on story and character-wise in that moment. I think Marc and Vadim (Feichtner, Ordinary DaysMusical Director) fit the bill in all of these ways, and I’m excited to be collaborating with them on this production.

What attributes must the actors bring to the four roles in Ordinary Days?

I think that I write musicals about real people going through real things and so the ability to be honest and true while singing a song is key to performing my work. Like my favorite kinds of musical directors, my favorite kinds of actors are those who can be totally in the moment and let nothing get thrown away. My songs often have a conversational quality about them, and an actor with the ability to unpack everything that’s going on, beat to beat and moment to moment, is a good fit for what I write, particularly in Ordinary Days, where all of the storytelling is in song. A good deal of musicianship is also important, because it’s the singer’s task to make even the most difficult musical moments feel effortless. During the audition process, Robyn Goodman joked that we needed to find actors who could “speak Gwon,” and I think there was a real truth to that. When an actor clicked with the material, you could feel it right away. And again, particularly with new work, I love working with actors who bring with them a real collaborative spirit and sense of adventure. Writing and acting, and, ultimately, watching theater is all about discovery, and I want to be surrounded by people who are eager to discover what the world—both in and out of the rehearsal room—is all about.

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ADAM GWON (Music & Lyrics) is a composer and lyricist named one of “50 to Watch” by The Dramatist magazine, and winner of the 2008 Fred Ebb award for excellence in musical theater songwriting. His musical Ordinary Days recently enjoyed a sold-out run at the Finborough Theatre in London, after making its world premiere at Pennsylvania Centre Stage and appearing in the 2008 NAMT Festival of New Musicals and the 2008 ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. His other musicals include Bernice Bobs Her Hair (with librettist Julia Jordan) and Ethan Frome. His work has been seen at Primary Stages, the York Theatre, New Dramatists, the Flea Theater, American Music Theatre Project, NYMF, Symphony Space, and many others. He’s currently at work on an original musical with playwright Sarah Hammond, commissioned by Broadway Across America; a musical commission from South Coast Rep for a project with Octavio Solis; and an adaptation of Joe Meno’s “The Boy Detective Fails,” commissioned by Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, as part of its American Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation. Adam and his work were presented in concert at the Kennedy Center as part of their series “Broadway: The Third Generation” and you can watch the concert on their website. Adam was a 2006-07 musical theater fellow at the Dramatists Guild and is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Upcoming productions of Ordinary Days include The Human Race Theater, the Adirondack Theater Company, South Coast Rep and it’s in New York premiere, the Roundabout Theatre Company. Visit www.adamgwon.com.

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Interview with the Director:

Interview with the Director: Marc Bruni

What made you decide that you wanted to direct for the theatre and direct musicals in particular?

I recall sitting in the auditorium of George Washington Middle School after my audition for the coveted role of Wilbur in Charlotte's Web. In the spirit of support for our peers, Mr. Brown had encouraged us to stay and watch our classmates' auditions, but instead of just watching, I pulled a yellow legal pad out of my Trapper Keeper and began taking notes. Chris Harris: Check minus. Can't carry a tune. Peter McCann: Check. Good Job. Better as Templeton, the gluttonous rat? Brian O'Leary: Question mark. Could the confident student council president really pull off the loneliness and vulnerability of the beloved pig? As it turned out, Brian was an inspired choice, with his rendition of "Welcome to Zuckerman Barn" particularly crowd pleasing. I ended up with the pivotal (okay, not that pivotal) role of "Narrator #3."

Though my high school and college years were marked with many further performances, I never lost that impulse to sit back and look at the larger picture. Theatre for me begins with a story, and I believe the director comes in to focus and clarify that story and craft the experience for an audience. I love the task of making those hundreds of moment-to-moment decisions, and directing a musical means having other people in the room to collaborate on those decisions. It's a far less lonely enterprise than directing a play.

Why did you want to direct Ordinary Days?

My first encounter with the piece came about a year and a half ago when I happened to see a reading of a forty minute excerpt at the ASCAP/Disney musical theatre workshop. I was struck by how Adam's work as a songwriter felt unique and contemporary in a way I hadn't heard before. That presentation included the song "I'll Be Here" which, even in a room fully lit with industrial fluorescent lighting, brought everyone to tears. Adam's ability to use vivid details to illuminate larger truths about the human condition made me believe he has a special gift for helping audiences see aspects of themselves in his characters. When Robyn, Josh, and Jill asked me to direct a reading of the piece, I jumped at the chance, and Adam and I went to work.

What do you feel Ordinary Days is about?

If I had to boil down the theme into one word, I would say "connection." All four characters begin the show with something

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missing in their lives, and over the course of the evening, they examine ways to connect with one other in an attempt to find that missing piece.  In the same way that Bernstein, Comden and Green, Kander and Ebb, Sondheim, and others wrote their tributes to the city, I think this piece is Adam's New York ode telling us to look around, open our eyes, let down our wall of urban cynicism- connect to our environment and to each other.

What kind of research and preparation did you have to do in order to direct this musical?

Because this piece is set in the present and the characters' feelings and conflicts are recognizable in the scope of my life experience, I didn't feel the need to research in the same way I would on a period piece. I did try to get lost at the Metropolitan Museum one Saturday and easily achieved that goal within minutes. The preparation really came in the series of meetings Adam and I had together to discuss fundamental ideas of structure, character development, and style. New material has been added, songs have been cut and reordered, and the conversation continues. Directing a new musical means helping to guide the dramaturgy of the piece- getting the story right. Once the material soars, the staging almost takes care of itself.

What are the challenges of directing a musical that is entirely sung through or a song cycle as opposed to a traditional book musical?

This particular piece started out as essentially a song cycle without a lot of narrative connection. When writing stand alone cabaret songs, as many of the songs from Ordinary Days can function, the writer assumes no audience knowledge of the characters or situations, so all the info necessary must be contained in the song itself. This way, it's easy to rely on a personality trait, quirky syntax, or an attitude to carry the song. Once the audience knows the character, however, they are hungry to see the character in action. They want something to happen. A lot of our process in developing this piece has come in finding a clarity in the narrative so the characters remain sympathetic and earn their moments of self reflection.

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What were you looking for in casting the actors?

Truthfulness. The Underground space feels extremely intimate, so the audience can easily detect when an actor is “Acting”. I don't want to see any of that. This piece has a slice of life style, so the singing should feel a completely natural extension of the voice. It's easy to find singers who can belt the high notes and cry. I wanted actors with an endearing emotional transparency that will make the audience cry. And laugh. And fall in love. Luckily, we have an extraordinary company who do that and also happen to have fantastic voices.

What were you looking for in your musical director?

Above all, I wanted someone who was going to act as a full collaborator in the process and make that process an enjoyable experience. Working on a new show means change. Constantly. It's critical to have an MD who can examine the work at every point and offer a fresh perspective on how to improve it. On this show, the MD must not only prepare the actors and oversee the arrangements, he must also act as the orchestra! We do have one additional instrumentalist, but I think it's critical to have a musician who can really perform the score and make the most of our limited orchestration. Adam and I both knew Vadim (Feichtner, Ordinary Days Musical Director) from other projects, and his consummate musicianship and extensive experience developing new musicals made him a logical choice for this show.

How did you go about working with your design team?

At this time we are still very much in the middle of figuring this out. With any design, the challenge lies in taking the limitations of the space and turning them into virtues. Unlike a proscenium house, this space allows for a good deal of flexibility. Lee Savage our set designer and I started by figuring out how we wanted to configure the space. This was ruled not only by aesthetic but practical concerns. Where do we put the musicians? Many of the locations Adam wrote are expansive spaces: exteriors, Central Park, a rooftop, the Met. How do we artfully achieve these given the Underground's extremely low ceiling? We then discussed a general visual vocabulary for how we were going to indicate the multiple locations, taking inspiration from existing found images. Only then did we get down to the nuts and bolts of where specifically the chair goes on page 14.

MARC BRUNI (Director) won the New York Musical Theatre Festival Directing Award for his production of Such Good Friends, and his production of Glimpses of the Moon just concluded a sold out run at the Algonquin Hotel Oak Room. He is currently the Associate Director of Legally Blonde (Tour/London) and appeared on MTV's “Search for Elle Woods”. Additional directing credits include Rob Fisher's Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein concerts for Lincoln Center Songbook, St. Louis MUNY productions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My One and Only, and The Music Man (upcoming). He has been associated with Walter Bobbie, Kathleen Marshall, Jerry Mitchell, and Jerry Zaks on thirteen Broadway shows including Roundabout's revivals of The Pajama Game and The Man Who Came to Dinner, Irving Berlin's White Christmas (10 Productions Internationally), Grease, Wonderful Town, High Fidelity, Sweet Charity, La Cage Aux Folles, and Little Shop of Horrors (Bway/Tour) as well as on Two Gentlemen of Verona (NYSF), South Pacific (Carnegie Hall/PBS), and City Center Encores! productions of Finian's Rainbow, No, No, Nanette, Applause, 70, Girls, 70, and Bye Bye Birdie. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College

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For more information about Roundabout Theatre Company’s Education Department, please visit our website, http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/education.htm , or email us at education@roundabouttheatre.org.

Education Department: Greg McCaslin Education Director; Jennifer DiBella Associate Education Director; Jay Gerlach Education Associate for Theatre Programs; Aliza Greenberg Education Program Associate; Ted Sod Education Dramaturg; Jamie Roach Education Assistant; Nicole Bournas-Ney Education Intern; Mandy Menaker Education Intern

Curtain Up
Written By: Miriam Colin

Who needs a book when you have twenty songs with smart character defining, story telling lyrics? Adam Gwon, winner of the Fred Ebb Award for Excellence in Musical Theater Songwriting, is cetainly a talent worth watching. However, a book writer could have kept his four character musical saga from coming off as too pat and, well, ordinary rather than extraordinary.

Following the stories of four young adults living un-extraordinary lives in New York, in a musical that pretty much fits the sung-through genre and with a single piano orchestra (expertly played by Vadim Feichtner) isn't exactly something to send crowds rushing to the box office. But that's not a problem here since it doesn't take crowds to fill the Roundabout's 62-seat Black Box Theater created to introduce and cultivate playwrights, and now, composer-lyricists. The intimacy of this space affords every audience members a prime seat and that rate pleasure: hearing songs without amplification.

Unsurprisingly, the New Yorkers Gwon has concocted to tell his story all have problems. For starters we have Warren (Jared Gertner), who's a gay, lonely and something of a nonentity. When we meet him, he's carrying on the work of a jailed graffity artist (pray painting homilies all over the city) by handing out printed versions of those sayings to passersby, who pay no more attention to his handouts than they would to any announcements of bargains and events. This unsuccessful endeavor highlights his sense of loneliness and alienation. Warren's story gets more interesting through a lost notebook that connects him with Deb (Kate Wetherhead), an NYU graduate student. Wethead is delightfully confused about everything from the subject of her thesis or whether to stay in New York.

The other characters, Jason and Claire (musical theater veterans Hunter Foster and Lisa Brescia), are a couple whose relationship is not doing well despite (or because?) their having just moved in together. They get two of the show's best songs, "Let Things Go", and "I'll Be Here."

As for the music generally, the lyrics are quite witty and don't strain to land their rhymes. The melodies are less memorable but that may be because they just keep coming on which tends to weaken the overall impact. As with any musical, the tunes might resonate more with repeated listening.

The somewhat bland and archetypical underpinnings notwithstanding, the excellent cast and attractive staging makes this a pleasantly enjoyable 80 minutes. Director Marc Bruno does manage to bring out what's best about this little show, its flavor of the anonymity of a huge city like New York which nevertheless allows strangers to connect and affect each other shades of the ever popular anecdotes in The New York Times "Metropolitan Diary" column.

Like The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown (whose work Gwon is likely to bring to mind), Ordinary Daysis likely to have its share of other production. In fact, while this is the first musical for the Underground theater, it's already been staged at Britain's Finborough Theatre and elsewhere in this country. The $20 ticket policy for these Roundabout productions also makes it eligible for Curtainup's piggy bank icon to flag up live theater bargains.

Ordinary Days
Music & Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Marc Bruni

Cast: Lisa Brescia (Claire), Jared Gertner (Warren), Hunter Foster (Jason), Kate Wetherhead (Deb)
From 10/02/09; opening 10/25/09; closing 12/13/09
Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7 PM with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1:30 PM.
Music Director/pianist: Vadim Feichtner
Sets: Lee Savage
Costumes: Lisa Zinni
Lights: Jeff Croiter
Sound: Danny Erdberg
Orchestrations:. Andy Einhorn
Running Time: 8o minutes, no intermission
Roundabout Theatre Company Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center 111 West 46th Street
Tickets $20.
Reviewed by Miriam Colin October 24th

Backstage
Written By: Erik Haagensen , October 26, 2009

Before the first song of Adam Gwon's "Ordinary Days" has ended, you're aware you're in the hands of a talented composer-lyricist with an unusually fine command of craft. Discovering a worthy new writer is always exciting, and you lean hungrily forward, eager for what's to come. How I wish I could report that "Ordinary Days" is a small gem of a musical. Unfortunately, as song follows song in this 75-minute, largely dialogue-free four-person show, the narrow musical palette, small emotional stakes, and thin characters ultimately sabotage the proceedings. Out of context, the individual songs are undoubtedly impressive; strung together, they diminish each other.

Tellingly, there is no book-writing credit. "Ordinary Days" falters in its weak story of two very different couples in today's New York City. Gay 20-something Warren housesits for a jailed downtown avant-garde artist who paints pithy slogans as graffiti throughout the city. Warren appropriates those slogans, writing them on slips of colored paper that he then tries to distribute to pedestrians, with few takers. One is 20-something Deb, a highly strung, intense grad student writing a thesis on Virginia Woolf. But they don't really meet until Deb loses all her thesis notes in Union Square and Warren finds them. Meanwhile, 30-something Claire is having trouble making room in her apartment for her boyfriend, 30-something Jason, who is at last moving in. It's immediately apparent that this is a decision Claire is already regretting, but she gives Jason no reason as to why she resists letting their relationship move forward. A sequence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art mingles the couples, with Deb meeting Warren there to retrieve her notes, and Claire and Jason arriving on an outing intended to rejuvenate their relationship. But the actions of each couple don't affect the other until a preposterous epiphany at the show's climax, which is followed by an equally preposterous deus ex machina in which we suddenly discover what has been keeping Claire from moving on with her life. Characters make unbelievable about-faces, and all ends with their happy realization that being ordinary can be beautiful.

Gwon is fortunate to have such a fine cast to deliver his show. Jared Gertner is sweet and lovably eccentric as Warren, who could easily come off as hopelessly annoying. As Deb, Kate Wetherhead is spiky and amusing, delivering some of Gwon's wittiest lyrics with rapierlike aplomb. Lisa Brescia excels at suggesting Claire's unexplained disaffectedness without alienating the audience. As Jason, Hunter Foster brings the force of his personality to another contemporary urban cipher and makes the character as interesting as he can. All four sing powerfully, and it is a pleasure to hear the unamplified results under Vadim Feichtner's precise musical direction in the intimate Roundabout Black Box space.

Director Marc Bruni's staging is simple and swift on Lee Savage's nearly bare stage backed by stacks of changing colored-light boxes. Jeff Croiter illuminates it cleanly, and Lisa Zinni's contemporary costumes fill the bill just fine.

Gwon has written several other shows and has more in the pipeline, including a commission from Washington, D.C.'s Signature Theatre. Should any of them get on in New York City, I'll be the first to be in line. He's got talent. But that only takes you so far, and in the case of "Ordinary Days," it isn't far enough.

Curtain Up
Written By: Miriam Collin , April 17, 1970

Who needs a book when you have twenty songs with smart character defining, story telling lyrics? Adam Gwon, winner of the Fred Ebb Award for Excellence in Musical Theater Songwriting, is cetainly a talent worth watching. However, a book writer could have kept his four character musical saga from coming off as too pat and, well. . .ordinary rather than extraordinary. Following the stories of four young adults living un-extraordinary lives in New York, in a musical that pretty much fits the sung-through genre and with a single piano orchestra (expertly played by Vadim Feichtner) isn't exactly something to send crowds rushing to the box office. But that's not a problem here since it doesn't take crowds to fill the Roundabout's 62-seat Black Box Theater created to introduce and cultivate playwrights, and now, composer-lyricists. The intimacy of this space affords every audience members a prime seat and that rate pleasure: hearing songs without amplification. Unsurprisingly, the New Yorkers Gwon has concocted to tell his story all have problems. For starters we have Warren (Jared Gertner), who's a gay, lonely and something of a nonentity. When we meet him, he's carrying on the work of a jailed graffity artist (pray painting homilies all over the city) by handing out printed versions of those sayings to passersby, who pay no more attention to his handouts than they would to any announcements of bargains and events. This unsuccessful endeavor highlights his sense of loneliness and alienation. Warren's story gets more interesting through a lost notebook that connects him with Deb (Kate Wetherhead), an NYU graduate student. Wethead is delightfully confused about everything from the subject of her thesis or whether to stay in New York. The other characters, Jason and Claire (musical theater veterans Hunter Foster and Lisa Brescia), are a couple whose relationship is not doing well despite (or because?) their having just moved in together. They get two of the show's best songs, 'Let Things Go', and 'I'll Be Here.' As for the music generally, the lyrics are quite witty and don't strain to land their rhymes. The melodies are less memorable but that may be because they just keep coming on which tends to weaken the overall impact. As with any musical, the tunes might resonate more with repeated listening. The somewhat bland and archetypical underpinnings notwithstanding, the excellent cast and attractive staging makes this a pleasantly enjoyable 80 minutes. Director Marc Bruno does manage to bring out what's best about this little show, its flavor of the anonymity of a huge city like New York which nevertheless allows strangers to connect and affect each other — shades of the ever popular anecdotes in The New York Times 'Metropolitan Diary' column. Like The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown (whose work Gwon is likely to bring to mind), Ordinary Daysis likely to have its share of other production. In fact, while this is the first musical for the Underground theater, it's already been staged at Britain's Finborough Theatre and elsewhere in this country. The $20 ticket policy for these Roundabout productions also makes it eligible for Curtainup's piggy bank icon to flag up live theater bargains. Ordinary Days Music & Lyrics by Adam Gwon Directed by Marc Bruni ________________________________________ Cast: Lisa Brescia (Claire), Jared Gertner (Warren), Hunter Foster (Jason), Kate Wetherhead (Deb) Music Director/pianist: Vadim Feichtner Sets: Lee Savage Costumes: Lisa Zinni Lights: Jeff Croiter Sound: Danny Erdberg Orchestrations:. Andy Einhorn Running Time: 80 minutes, no intermission Reviewed by Miriam Colin October 24th
Backstage
Written By: Erik Haagensen , April 29, 1970

Roundabout Theatre Company at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/Black Box Theatre as part of Roundabout Underground Reviewed by Erik Haagensen OCTOBER 26, 2009 Before the first song of Adam Gwon's 'Ordinary Days' has ended, you're aware you're in the hands of a talented composer-lyricist with an unusually fine command of craft. Discovering a worthy new writer is always exciting, and you lean hungrily forward, eager for what's to come. How I wish I could report that 'Ordinary Days' is a small gem of a musical. Unfortunately, as song follows song in this 75-minute, largely dialogue-free four-person show, the narrow musical palette, small emotional stakes, and thin characters ultimately sabotage the proceedings. Out of context, the individual songs are undoubtedly impressive; strung together, they diminish each other. Tellingly, there is no book-writing credit. 'Ordinary Days' falters in its weak story of two very different couples in today's New York City. Gay 20-something Warren housesits for a jailed downtown avant-garde artist who paints pithy slogans as graffiti throughout the city. Warren appropriates those slogans, writing them on slips of colored paper that he then tries to distribute to pedestrians, with few takers. One is 20-something Deb, a highly strung, intense grad student writing a thesis on Virginia Woolf. But they don't really meet until Deb loses all her thesis notes in Union Square and Warren finds them. Meanwhile, 30-something Claire is having trouble making room in her apartment for her boyfriend, 30-something Jason, who is at last moving in. It's immediately apparent that this is a decision Claire is already regretting, but she gives Jason no reason as to why she resists letting their relationship move forward. A sequence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art mingles the couples, with Deb meeting Warren there to retrieve her notes, and Claire and Jason arriving on an outing intended to rejuvenate their relationship. But the actions of each couple don't affect the other until a preposterous epiphany at the show's climax, which is followed by an equally preposterous deus ex machina in which we suddenly discover what has been keeping Claire from moving on with her life. Characters make unbelievable about-faces, and all ends with their happy realization that being ordinary can be beautiful. Gwon is fortunate to have such a fine cast to deliver his show. Jared Gertner is sweet and lovably eccentric as Warren, who could easily come off as hopelessly annoying. As Deb, Kate Wetherhead is spiky and amusing, delivering some of Gwon's wittiest lyrics with rapierlike aplomb. Lisa Brescia excels at suggesting Claire's unexplained disaffectedness without alienating the audience. As Jason, Hunter Foster brings the force of his personality to another contemporary urban cipher and makes the character as interesting as he can. All four sing powerfully, and it is a pleasure to hear the unamplified results under Vadim Feichtner's precise musical direction in the intimate Roundabout Black Box space. Director Marc Bruni's staging is simple and swift on Lee Savage's nearly bare stage backed by stacks of changing colored-light boxes. Jeff Croiter illuminates it cleanly, and Lisa Zinni's contemporary costumes fill the bill just fine. Gwon has written several other shows and has more in the pipeline, including a commission from Washington, D.C.'s Signature Theatre. Should any of them get on in New York City, I'll be the first to be in line. He's got talent. But that only takes you so far, and in the case of 'Ordinary Days,' it isn't far enough.
Backstage
Written By: Erik Haagensen , April 29, 1970

Roundabout Theatre Company at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/Black Box Theatre as part of Roundabout Underground Reviewed by Erik Haagensen OCTOBER 26, 2009 Before the first song of Adam Gwon's 'Ordinary Days' has ended, you're aware you're in the hands of a talented composer-lyricist with an unusually fine command of craft. Discovering a worthy new writer is always exciting, and you lean hungrily forward, eager for what's to come. How I wish I could report that 'Ordinary Days' is a small gem of a musical. Unfortunately, as song follows song in this 75-minute, largely dialogue-free four-person show, the narrow musical palette, small emotional stakes, and thin characters ultimately sabotage the proceedings. Out of context, the individual songs are undoubtedly impressive; strung together, they diminish each other. Tellingly, there is no book-writing credit. 'Ordinary Days' falters in its weak story of two very different couples in today's New York City. Gay 20-something Warren housesits for a jailed downtown avant-garde artist who paints pithy slogans as graffiti throughout the city. Warren appropriates those slogans, writing them on slips of colored paper that he then tries to distribute to pedestrians, with few takers. One is 20-something Deb, a highly strung, intense grad student writing a thesis on Virginia Woolf. But they don't really meet until Deb loses all her thesis notes in Union Square and Warren finds them. Meanwhile, 30-something Claire is having trouble making room in her apartment for her boyfriend, 30-something Jason, who is at last moving in. It's immediately apparent that this is a decision Claire is already regretting, but she gives Jason no reason as to why she resists letting their relationship move forward. A sequence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art mingles the couples, with Deb meeting Warren there to retrieve her notes, and Claire and Jason arriving on an outing intended to rejuvenate their relationship. But the actions of each couple don't affect the other until a preposterous epiphany at the show's climax, which is followed by an equally preposterous deus ex machina in which we suddenly discover what has been keeping Claire from moving on with her life. Characters make unbelievable about-faces, and all ends with their happy realization that being ordinary can be beautiful. Gwon is fortunate to have such a fine cast to deliver his show. Jared Gertner is sweet and lovably eccentric as Warren, who could easily come off as hopelessly annoying. As Deb, Kate Wetherhead is spiky and amusing, delivering some of Gwon's wittiest lyrics with rapierlike aplomb. Lisa Brescia excels at suggesting Claire's unexplained disaffectedness without alienating the audience. As Jason, Hunter Foster brings the force of his personality to another contemporary urban cipher and makes the character as interesting as he can. All four sing powerfully, and it is a pleasure to hear the unamplified results under Vadim Feichtner's precise musical direction in the intimate Roundabout Black Box space. Director Marc Bruni's staging is simple and swift on Lee Savage's nearly bare stage backed by stacks of changing colored-light boxes. Jeff Croiter illuminates it cleanly, and Lisa Zinni's contemporary costumes fill the bill just fine. Gwon has written several other shows and has more in the pipeline, including a commission from Washington, D.C.'s Signature Theatre. Should any of them get on in New York City, I'll be the first to be in line. He's got talent. But that only takes you so far, and in the case of 'Ordinary Days,' it isn't far enough.

Musical Numbers for Ordinary Days

Song #
Song Name
Character Name
Play
Other Versions

Interview with the Composer and Lyricist: Adam Gwon,Upstage, November 30, 2009
Written By: Adam Gwon

I like to think that the birth of Ordinary Days is a really good example of necessity being the mother of invention. A couple years ago, I landed a musical theater writing fellowship at the Dramatists Guild—it’s a program run by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty that gives young writers an outlet to develop new work. I had gotten this fellowship on my own, that is, without a collaborator (I usually collaborate with a playwright who writes the book of the musical), and, knowing this, I wanted to design a project that I knew could work with only my skill set in play. I started off just writing a couple songs to see where they would lead me and soon the whole piece came into focus in my mind. I’m a huge believer that form is born out of content, and so, because I knew I’d be stitching together a narrative told through individual songs and vignettes, I came up with this story about people struggling to make connections with each other and with the world around them. It was my thought that the audience would have to actively be connecting the dots of the story as they watched, since the story is essentially told in fragments, and I liked the idea of engaging the audience to make connections in a show about the importance of making connections. You get the idea.

Two other inspirations for the show were my own experiences being an aspiring twenty-something in New York City, and my favorite novel, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which I was re-reading at the time I wrote Ordinary Days. The seed that started the whole project was me feeling a little bit at sea with, well, how—and if—life worked itself out. As you can imagine, aspiring artists in New York are almost inevitably forced to stitch together a patchwork life. You’ve got your dayjob, your multitude of creative projects, your social life, your love life, your friends from work, from school, from shows, your family, and on and on, all seemingly leading in different directions. I felt like I was constantly bouncing from one very specific bubble of my daily life to the next, and the question I was asking as I wrote Ordinary Days was how do all these pieces add up? As I wrote, I think that question evolved to explore more than just the experiences of a twentysomething in New York, but it all started from a very real, personal place. And as for Mrs. Dalloway, well, I just love that book, and I’ll leave it to some astute audience members to try and spot my little homage to it in the show.


Awards for Ordinary Days

Vocal Range of Characters:

NameVocal TypeLow NoteHigh Note
WarrenG#Ab
DebF#3E5
JasonEG#4
ClaireEE5

Vocal Range notes for Ordinary Days:

 Note: Many of the low notes occur during the "talky" sections of the music.  For example, Jason does not necessarily need a really strong low E.

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Writers Notes for Ordinary Days


Written By: Adam Gwon

In the fall of 2006, I had at least two thoughts spinning around in my brain.  The first, as I tried to jumpstart a writing career by running down every path I could find, was: “When on earth will all of this start to add up?”  The second, upon winning a fellowship with the Dramatists Guild, was: “What on earth am I going to write now?”
Luckily, I had the good sense to fuse those two thoughts together, and Ordinary Days was born.

Ordinary Days tells the stories of four people struggling to connect.  It’s made up of pieces that, like its characters, reveal themselves to be part of a much bigger story than we might have first imagined.  It’s about realizing that the pieces of our lives, as jumbled as they may seem, do fit together, even if we have to shift our perspective to see it.  “When on earth will all of this start to add up?”  It already does.
Some specific thoughts about production:

• There are, purposefully, few notes about staging concepts in the script; I hoped from the start to leave the material open to an innumerable amount of staging possibilities.  The show’s New York premiere, at the Roundabout Theatre Company, was produced in an intimate black box theater with three simple set pieces that were pushed around to create each scene.  Its very next production, at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, was staged on a huge proscenium with a three-story, automated set and video projections.  Both productions were thrilling and captured the essence of the show in equally successful ways.
• The style of the piece, both musically and lyrically, is meant to capture the cadences and rhythms of everyday speech.  Tempo markings are merely suggestions, and most numbers should create the feel of conversation.  In doing so, however, don’t be afraid to make bold shifts in tempo, dynamics, and expression; this will help maintain a rich musical tapestry even when using solo piano accompaniment.
• The lyric referencing Warren’s height in “Big Picture” can be adjusted to match that of the actor.
• In addition to those specifically mentioned in the script, here are a few additional quotes to use on Warren’s flyers.  Feel free to use these or create your own!


“Share your life story.”
“The key to success unlocks many doors.”
“The road of life has no map.  Let happiness be your compass.”
“Opportunity is like an express train: there is always another one on its way.”
“Change your socks and your perspective daily.”
“Relax.”
“Take the scenic route.  Life is not a metered ride.”

 


Performance Tools for Ordinary Days

Playbill VIP:

MAKE YOUR OWN PLAYBILL! Playbill VIP allows you to create your very own Playbill Program. We have provided Playbill with all of the credits, song listings, musical numbers and more so that most of the work is already done for you. Just add your productions details, photos of the cast and share it with all of your friends. Learn more: www.playbillvip.com


Rental Materials for Ordinary Days

STANDARD

  • Ordinary Days - Libretto 10 pack (10 Libretto, 10 PV)
    • 10 – Libretto Book
    • 10 – Piano Vocal Score

ADDITIONAL

  • Ordinary Days - Pre-Production Pack
    • 1 – Libretto Book
    • 1 – Piano Vocal Score

Cast Requirements for Ordinary Days

PRINCIPALS
2 Women
2 Men

CHARACTERS
WARREN, in his 20s
DEB, in her 20s
JASON, in his 30s
CLAIRE, in her 30s

Set Requirements for Ordinary Days

ORDINARY DAYS takes place in New York City, present day. A unit set was used in the original off-Broadway production to represent various locations which include: a busy sidewalk, Claire’s apartment, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, taxi cabs, Starbucks, Claire’s Cousin’s apartment, a rooftop overlooking Union Square and the streets below.

Materials Notes

Featured News

Adam Gwon wins the Kleban Prize

Adam Gwon composer of ORDINARY DAYS has won the Kleban Prize for Excellence  in Musical Theatre Writing for his work as a lyricist. 

Read More
ORDINARY DAYS Available for Professional Licensing

R&H Theatricals will begin accepting applications for professional productions; CD release will coincide.

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Ahrens & Flaherty on Adam Gwon

Tony Award-winning team Ahrens and Flaherty discuss up-and-coming composer/lyricist Adam Gwon and his new musical ORDINARY DAYS.

Read More

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2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved.

WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine.

This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

*You must be and licensed to present Ordinary Days in order to license Archival rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.

Distribution

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2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine. This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

*You must be and licensed to present Ordinary Days in order to license Distribution rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.
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