Ordinary Days

Date 5th December 2023
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue Green Room Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Tom Ferguson
Musical Director Alex Pollard

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

A Delightful Journey through Adam Gwon’s "Ordinary Days" at Wilmslow Green Room.

 

Wilmslow Green Room's rendition of "Ordinary Days" marked a cornerstone production for the society with their return to musical theatre for the first time in approximately 80 years (!), and it did not disappoint. This title is a contemporary and - dare I say – an unconventional gamble for any established musical theatre company let alone one who’ve never ventured into the ‘Off Broadway’ domain before. It's regrettable that shows of this nature have a somewhat confined audience base so it's notable to observe the successful sales, considering its niche appeal which contradicts the beliefs of a lot of established musical theatre groups; “musicals with small casts don’t sell” and ; “People won’t want to see it if they don’t know the songs”... to the many hordes of people who so frequently spout such remarks, I say take a leaf out of WGR’s book!

Upon taking my seat, the set design was generally non-specific apart from a suspended silhouette of buildings which told us we were in Manhattan. The stage was host to a formation of benches and movable blocks which I admit sparked anticipation for what was to come, I envisaged reconfigurations of these to present the different scenes. However, the decision to maintain this static format throughout the production was a missed opportunity. While this choice did not diminish the overall impact, it left one wondering about the potential creativity that could have been unleashed. On the other hand, and ever so slightly contradictory, this director certainly understood to let the words (lyrics) do the work, no need for gimmicks or overcomplicated “fuss” which is refreshing.


As is the norm for this venue, seating the audience on multiple sides of the performance space, this structure couldn’t have been more perfect for this style of musical, working entirely in its favour. I adore seeing all styles of musical theatre with alternative staging, something that’s particularly on trend at the moment (‘Guys & Dolls’ and ‘Cabaret’ currently playing in London’s West End is all the proof you need) as it’s such a rare treat given many venues aren’t able to offer such flexibility with how to stage a show. Staging a musical in this venue instantly adds a unique stamp on the presentation before the houselights even dim. We got the feel of an immersive concept here, which is generally rare for musicals to generate.  It’s tricky for many productions to draw their viewers into the heart of a performance due to the distance most theatres assert between the cast and audience, not here! This four-hander, entirely sung through, showcased the society's brave commitment to tackling a challenge and WGR deserve applause for taking on this experiment. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a triumph and (hopefully) a promising new avenue for the future of this group.

The Musical Director's skilful finger work on the electric piano kept the show moving at a desired pace. It was refreshing to have their presence as part of the performance. Although the cast never directly acknowledged or engaged with him, he still felt like the fifth cast member, ever present and integrated with the cast, a refreshing departure from the common practice of attempting to conceal musicians.

Despite the chic atmosphere, there were moments where it seemed as though some cast members perhaps struggled to hear, resulting in occasional pitch issues. However, this did little to detract from the overall experience as the proficiency demonstrated by other disciplines made this a little easier to excuse.

Each cast member delivered their defined and clear characters, showcasing their competence in bringing the narrative to life. The standout moments were undoubtedly provided by the two cast members playing Deb and Claire, who emerged victorious in delivering the most memorable performances of the evening be it comedic, tear jerking or simply savouring in two highly polished and influencing acts. ‘I’ll Be Here’ was truly poignant and struck the exact chord the story sets out to evoke.

In conclusion, Wilmslow Green Room's production of "Ordinary Days" was a commendable venture into ‘Off Broadway’ territory, successfully capturing the essence of the modern musical. With its talented cast and musical prowess, the society has proven that it can indeed master the art of musical theatre, leaving the audience – myself included – eagerly anticipating the announcement of future productions.