Being able to appreciate the small things in life is something few of us do on a day to day basis. Sometimes it just takes three weeks and a handful of people working tirelessly to put on a show to remind us just how special and extraordinary life can be. The company of the Drama Society’s production of Ordinary Days directed by Zoe Callow accomplished exactly this and much more.
In just a little over an hour of watching the lives of four everyday people play out on stage, there was laughter, anger, tears, and hope for the future. Each member of the cast fully committed to playing their role in ways that were so convincing I forgot where I was and became completely immersed in each of the characters’ lives.
Each of the characters opening songs gave them very distinct personalities and laid out their backstories in such a way that made me feel instantly connected and invested in their lives. Warren, played by Sam Hewitson, opened the musical with the song “One by One by One,” which perfectly set up his character and also one of the larger messages of the overall musical, hope and determination. The smile that Hewitson had on his face for the entire opening number was infectious, and so was his energy across the whole performance. Warren could not have been played by any other person.
The same can be said for Hewitson’s castmate, Ella D’Arcy Jones, who played Deb. Her first song, though quite different from Hewitson’s still gave me a very good sense of her character. Going through each one of her attempts to try and find her purpose in life, the song, “I Don’t Wanna Be Here” left me hoping she would find where she wanted to be. Jones’s portrayal of Deb was feisty and hilarious. She added the perfect amount of tart to Hewitson’s sweetness in their scenes together. They were a fantastic pairing with an undeniable chemistry that could only have been matched by the two other performers, Lillian Carver and George Majin, who played Claire and Jason.
You could not help but fall in love with Majin’s portrayal of Jason from the minute he strode on stage with a grin that could warm anyone’s heart. His first song, “The Space Between,” just added to this feeling of warmth as he sang about moving in with his girlfriend Claire (Carver). Majin’s singing blew me away from the very first song and his character, as well as his voice, melded together with Carver’s in such a way that made me believe no matter the obstacles they faced that their characters would be together.
All four of the characters opening songs left me wondering what would happen next for each of them, but Claire’s opening song, “Let Things Go,” made me wonder more about her past. Carver’s ability to show that she was still harbouring emotions from the death of her husband John and when she finally let go of her sadness, moved me to tears.
Zoe Callow’s direction brought out the human emotions that existed within each of the characters, allowing the audience to feel what the characters were going through in a very real way. She created a production that showed just how amazing and special ordinary lives can be.
Matt Snow’s musical direction contributed significantly to the development of each of the characters and their relationships with one another. Snow also had the added challenge of his piano playing being the only musical accompaniment for the entreaty of the show, but he never missed a note.
The lighting design by Jasmine Savage helped the audience concentrate on specific moments between the characters and helped to make the very minimal set feel as though the actors were really in all the different environments and settings that they encountered.
The entire production made me wish I could watch it repeatedly. There was something so special about the show being about everyday people. Many shows focus on larger figures in life and do not take the time to focus on most of the people who live in the world. It was refreshing just for a night to be reminded that we are all unique and all our stories are unique, and that is something I hope none of us ever forget.