It’s been a long time since I left a musical feeling the way I did when I the Dreamlight Theater last night after seeing their current production, The Extraordinary Ordinary. I honestly feel like I owe my readers the courtesy of letting you know right away about this play so you book your tickets before it closes on December 18th. Run, don’t walk. I actually saw the show with my friend, who happens to be one of my favorite bloggers, Julie, from stagemama.com. Way back in 1997, she was at a reading of the play, and she’s quite good friends with the lyricist and composer (Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel). It was the first time that this show has been on a stage and only the 2nd night of its run. It was set to open tonight, and my fingers are crossed that it went as smoothly as it appeared last night. I am so grateful to Julie for introducing me to this magical show.
It’s a very realistic play set to music about a group of six friends who face the challenges of daily life in NYC. It reminded me of my own pre-marriage and kids days when I was living in NYC in a small apartment, when I was a single female doing laundry on a Saturday night, when I hung out with a group of friends who spent holidays together and shared all our secrets and dreams. Karen is the central character. She is the glue that holds this group of friends together, and they individually confide in her and tell her everything. “They” meaning Karen, who is single; Kate, who has a boyfriend but we never see him; Bev, who is married to Zach; and Sam and Joey, who have been dating nearly a year. Every Friday night, they all meet at Karen’s apartment. They have all known each other for different amounts of time – some of them met in high school, some in college, and they are all close, some closer to others than others. When they meet, they make announcements (like promotions) and reveal secrets (like the gay couple meeting on Craig’s List) and we learn that the married couple no longer have sex. Zach is no longer happy with his life singing “my life has no meaning” and we learn that his wife is a workaholic. Karen is worried about getting older and not having kids (She sings “Please send me – the someone – or whatever it is I need”). Just like in real life, the women bond during these get-togethers; the men try to connect to one another.
When Zach confides in Sam that his “life is wasting away for a cafe au lait,” they strike a new relationship that exists outside the set of friends. It leads to confusion (“It’s the end of the world as we know it”) and spawns a whole new set of problems for the friends, especially Karen who is sworn to secrecy not to reveal the truth which sets off a rupture in her friendships.
The actors shuffle effortlessly between dialogue and music. The play’s songs are carefully constructed and they move the story along without a hitch. With titles like “Who am I Today?,” “Strange the Things,” “A Call to Mother,” “If I Were” and “Did I Ever Really Know You?”, they start and end the play leaving no pages left unturned. They truly deliver. In addition, the cast is top-notch. I was especially impressed with Patrick Oliver Jones, who plays Zach, the husband. In the program, it says that this was his first venture to Off-Broadway, and I see a very bright NYC future ahead for him. Courtney Balan, who plays Karen, is wonderful. She has a strong singing voice and a solid sense of humor in her acting. Kristoffer Cusick and Jonathan Parkey, who play Sam and Joey, are both terrific, especially Cusick. Bev, played by Kelly McCormick, and Kate, played by Pamela Bob, have wonderful stage presences. They are both quite expressive and perfect for their roles. Bob, in particular, has a great command of her character and really pulled off some great comedic moments.
So, do I recommend this show? You betchya! Any show with an uplifting song at the end that says that we’re “trying to do better than the day before”…”ordinary day”…and the fact I’m still singing that song today, scores high on my list. The play doesn’t have the ending that you quite expect it to have either. When the plot’s big decision has to be made, the character making it swings in the other direction. The characters are left to pick up the pieces, but they have each other to figure it out. That never changes.
I have big hopes for this show. Please go see it to show your support for off-Broadway and help a small play’s chance of getting out there to a larger audience. Look for tickets here.