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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Ordinary Days
Round House Theatre

Also see Susan's review of Judgment at Nuremberg


Erin Weaver, Will Gartshore, Janine DiVita
and Samuel Edgerly

Ordinary Days, the lovely small musical now at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, is about how something as inconsequential as a misplaced piece of paper can change lives—even in impersonal New York City. Adam Gwon, composer and lyricist for the dialogue-free show (a song cycle rather than sung-through), follows the lives of four thoughtful, eloquent people as they search for meaning and connection.

Warren (Samuel Edgerly) is helping a jailed guerrilla artist friend by housesitting, taking care of the friend's cat, and pleading his friend's cause by writing pithy sayings on sheets of paper and handing them out to passersby. Deb (Erin Weaver) is throwing her entire life into working on her master's thesis. They "meet cute," but it isn't a predictable relationship. Jason (Will Gartshore) moves in with Claire (Janine DiVita), who cares about him but can't quite take the step toward admitting that she loves him.

Gwon is still relatively young, so some of his musical influences are rather obvious to musical theater fans, but he knows his way around a melody and writes incisive lyrics that can sum up a character in a few well-chosen lines. Many hard-working people in the audience will relate to Deb's solo "Calm," about the stresses of getting through the day, while easygoing Warren and frustrated Jason inspire empathy. Most powerful of all is Claire's climactic solo "I'll Be There," which fuses the pain of an individual with the impact of a city-wide crisis.

In his Round House debut, director Matthew Gardiner—best known for his extensive credits at Signature Theatre—creates a believable world out of his four talented performers. Edgerly, Weaver, Gartshore and DiVita skillfully convey their characters through their strong, true voices, well supported by musical director and onstage pianist William Yanesh.

Misha Kachman's scenic design breaks up the broad Round House stage in modular fashion, creating several apartments and a coffee shop out of a few pieces of furniture, a balcony, and some well-chosen props. A row of illuminated newspaper vending boxes adds to the sense of a busy street in a crowded city.

Round House Theatre
Ordinary Days
May 28th - June 22nd
Music and lyrics by Adam Gwon
Warren: Samuel Edgerly
Deb: Erin Weaver
Jason: Will Gartshore
Claire: Janine DiVita
Directed by Matthew Gardiner
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-644-1100 or www.roundhousetheatre.org


Photo: Danisha Crosby


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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