In playwright Adam Gwon’s New York, the slightest connection in a city of strangers can lead to something extraordinary. As the Hamilton Theatre Project creates the idealized metropolis of Gwon’s story, they hope to capture something extraordinary as well.
Told through nineteen songs, contemporary musical Ordinary Days tells the story of four characters attempting to navigate their way through their 20s and 30s in New York. As the characters look to build meaningful connections on their respective journeys of change, they learn that their everyday lives can weave together and inspire hope in unexpected ways.
This concept, paired with the fact that Ordinary Days is a musical in the purest form of the discipline means that each of the four actors involved in the production also need to be extraordinary performers and singers.
Enter the Hamilton Theatre Project. The organization is closely affiliated with the Hamilton Choir Project, a chamber ensemble that tells contemporary stories through song. Cast member of Ordinary Days and co-leader of the Choir Project, Amber Mills, conceived the idea for the Theatre Project as an extension of the way the troupe shared stories.
“Artistically, the goal of both groups is to tell a story,” Mills commented. “The Choir Project just focuses on music that tells stories.”
Ordinary Days is the Hamilton Theatre Project’s first production, although the second produced by the group. Last June, the Choir Project produced John & Jen, starring Mills alongside Dante Pietrangeli. With a small cast and minimal staging, the performance relied on the talent of its two actors to carry the show- and the risk paid off.
To help lightning strike twice, Mills has assembled an all-star ensemble to join her. Hamilton-based performers Vicktoria Adam (There’s No Place Like Home), Jeff Giles (Buddy Holly, CBC TV, Theatre Aquarius) and Nick Settimi (Spamalot, Theatre Aquarius) join Mills under the direction of Luke Brown. Pianist Kate Boose plays a dual role in the production as solo accompaniment to the musical’s score as well as Musical Director.
The venue of the production also plays a key role. The flexibility of the Staircase Theatre’s Bright Room means that the audience will be set on either side of the stage, with the performance taking place in between. The created intimacy will allow both actors and audience to be immersed in the story.
“The playwright (Adam Gwon) wrote notes about the production,” Mills observed, pointing out the emphasis on personalizing the script, and ability to make amendments to the stage directions as examples. “This allows productions of Ordinary Days to be as simple or ambitious as budget and imagination allows.”
The timing of this production could not be more perfect. With the new year recently underway, people are looking to make resolutions and make changes to their lives- something the cast is quick to draw parallels to with the story.
“Each character is called to evolve, let go or change,” Jeff Giles stated. “Both in the play and as we leave the theatre, Ordinary Days calls us to think about how we engage, and build a closer connection with what’s around us- whether that’s our family, friends, community, political landscape or environment.”
The Hamilton Theatre Project hopes that Ordinary Days is the start of many more productions. The group recognizes that while there are numerous community theatre ensembles in the city, there is plenty of opportunity for professional theatre to grow.
“We’re in a moment in time where anything feels possible,” Giles said. “Just like in Ordinary Days, there is a hopeful sense that if you want to make something happen in Hamilton, you can.”
Who: Hamilton Theatre Project
What: Ordinary Days
Length: Approximately 90 minutes
Where: Staircase Theatre Bright Room (27 Dundurn Street North)
When: January 29 & 30 at 8pm; February 6 & 7 at 8pm; February 8 at 2pm & 8pm
Tickets: $25 for adults; $20 for students/seniors/arts workers through Hamilton Choir Project
Feature photo of Ordinary Days cast courtesy of Hamilton Theatre Project.