Tag Archives: Adam Gwon

“Ordinary Days” at the London Theatre Workshop

Adam Gwon’s tyro musical from 2008 has a special place in many hearts. Presenting the lives of four everyday New Yorkers, with the ambition of making the prosaic poetic, it’s full of enthusiasm, hearts on sleeves and clever comedy. A budding friendship and a struggling romance, with meditations on art and urban life, fused by super piano score, make this a short but fulfilling gem of a show.

It’s easy to imagine the piece as a treasure trove for performers, with four evenly exposed, meaty characters who demand attention.

Finding friendship in the big city are sensitive artist Warren and grad student Deb. Neil Cameron makes his role an appealing figure while Nora Perone does well with her character’s easily recognisable anger management issues.Warren might be played more bohemian and Deb a little sassier, but these are questions of interpretation rather than presentation – top marks to both performers. Meanwhile, struggling to love her new boyfriend, Kirby Hughes makes a convincing Claire, and her voice is a real pleasure. While the chemistry between Claire and her just-moved-in partner is necessarily reserved – much of the plot is her journey to accepting love – Alistair Frederick’s Jason was the highlight for me. Frederick makes a slightly soppy character shine and reveals solo numbers stronger than I’d previously recognised. I’ll stop skipping those tracks on my Ordinary Days CD from now on.

The production is admirably directed by Jen Coles, who keeps up momentum and adds nice touches that bring a sense of movement, specifically circularity, which suits the piece. It hardly matters that the staging here is so basic – it simply adds to the charm. As a final treat, there’s the special thrill of hearing performers without amplification – a rare event that always wins admiration for a cast and is perfect for this wonderfully intimate piece.

Until 17 June 2017


Photo by Natalie Lomako

“Ordinary Days” at the Trafalgar Studios

Having had its London premiere at the Finborough Theatre back in 2008 we owe director Adam Lenson enormous thanks for staging another production of Ordinary Days. Adam Gwon’s musical is as far from the quotidian as it is possible to be. It’s a must-see.

Gwon’s story of four young people on one day in New York is a song cycle of love to the city. New York’s stresses and excitement, its random possibilities, are common enough urban tropes but Gwon presents them with unusual, appealing modesty as well as intelligence and great tunes.

Lenson has a similarly light touch, focusing on the intimacy of the piece and getting the best from his cast of familiar musical theatre performers. It would be a privilege to see these guys on any stage, but in a venue as intimate as the Trafalgar Studios it’s an unmissable opportunity.

Daniel Boys is perfectly cast as the lovelorn James. The chemistry he has with co-star Julie Atherton, who plays the recondite Claire, is palpable and both are in fine voice.
Deb and Warren
Lee William-Davis shows off his fine acting skills playing Warren, a sensitive soul lost in the city. Yet the revelation of the night is Alexia Khadime, who gives a tremendous performance as Deb, a frenzied graduate student who loses her notes and finds something more important. Khadime’s voice is as stunning as her comic ability.

Comparisons with writer/composer Jason Robert Brown are somewhat inevitable for Gwon. There are similarities and that is no bad thing. Ordinary Days is fresh, contemporary and brave. But Gwon’s musical has a more immediate lyricism and his writing a sentimental touch Robert Brown might shy away from.

Underlying Ordinary Days are questions that resonate with a modern urban audience, and ruminations on art and life that are delivered with emotional truth. Beauty is never far away in the city, or in Gwon’s wonderful score. With Lenson on board, Ordinary Days is 80 minutes of near perfection, so good you’ll want to see it again as soon as it’s finished.

Until 5 March 2011