Tesseract Theatre is beginning its new season with an accomplished production of Ordinary Days, an engaging sung-through chamber musical by Adam Gwon.
The show about two couples: one that meets during the show and one that is drifting apart.
The characters who meet are Deb and Warren. He is pet-sitting for an incarcerated artist and is trying to honor the artist by handing out flyers imprinted with his messages. She is frazzled student who panics after losing the notebook with all her research for her thesis on Virginia Woolf. After finding the notebook, Warren contacts Deb so he can return it. Their meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art does not go well, but their story does not end there.
Claire and Jason move in together at the start of the play, but proximity drives wedges between them emotionally. They, too, pay an unsatisfactory visit to the Met, but the two couples’ paths do not cross until an endearing scene near the end of the show.
Because Ordinary Days has no dialogue, the initial numbers must provide the exposition. They tend to be fast and breezy. The later numbers dig into the characters’ feelings. The fine cast handles all the songs very well under Elizabeth Wurm’s direction and Zach Neumann’s musical direction.
Lauren Tenenbaum finds the comedy in Deb’s anxiety about the state of her life. Jacob Schmidt’s Warren has a goofy sweetness that chips away at Deb’s resistance. Michael Lowe captures the depth of Jason’s commitment to Claire, while Brittani O’Connell conveys the inner turmoil that accounts for her apprehensiveness about a deeper relationship with Jason.
The production takes place on two-levels: the stage in the Zach Theatre and an apron built out from it. The main set piece is a small, raised platform reached via a spiral staircase. Impressive projections designed by Taylor Gruenloh localize the scenes to many different interior and exterior places in New York City. The lighting and sound were designed by Brittanie Gunn and Phillip Evans respectively.
Until this season, Tesseract focused on new works. Its pivot to musicals continues in February with The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown. The season concludes in April with Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz, “a hip-hop theater coming-of-age story.”
—Gerry KowarskyPhoto byTaylor Gruenloh
From left, Lauren Tenenbaum as Deb and Jacob Schmidt as Warren in Ordinary Days.