“Ordinary Days,” a 2010 musical by Adam Gwon, opened at the Peters Theater Sept. 7 and 8. The musical follows four New Yorkers as they face trials and feelings associated with insignificance.
Kyra Little, senior theater major, directed the show as her Senior Capstone. The Capstone is the culminating project for all theater majors and requires students to produce a play or musical. Little had to cast, direct and conceptualize the show – she is notably the first student to do a musical as her Capstone show.
Little both directed and starred in the show. She played Deb, a blunt, anxious grad student whose search for her missing dissertation notes leads her to Warren. Warren, played by junior vocal performance and nonprofit leadership major Spencer Ruwe, is a happy-go-lucky assistant to an incarcerated artist. When Warren finds Deb’s notebook, he emails her, asking her to meet him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday.
On the same day, the two other leads of this quirky, big-hearted show are on a date at the museum. Jason, played by local Kansas City actor Scott Salem, recently moved in with his girlfriend Claire in hopes of strengthening their relationship. Claire, played by junior music education major Christina Vogler, was reluctant about this next step. Throughout the musical she struggles with letting go of past tragedy in order to make room for Jason in her life.
The quaint and intertwining story of this show would not have had the emotional impact on its audience without the impeccable score. “Sort-Of Fairy Tale” showcased Warren’s hopeful optimism and contrasted it with Deb’s charming snark. The frantic nature of “Calm,” a song performed by Deb as she hunts for a bit of tranquility amidst a mental breakdown, brought relatable aspects of anxiety to life on stage. One of the most poignant moments of the show came during Claire’s song “I’ll Be Here.” During the number her emotional vocals told of a love story cut short by the terrorist attacks on 9/11. “I’ll Be Here” was also quite influential in Little’s decision to put on “Ordinary Days.”
“I was captivated by how emotional and vulnerable the song was, so I looked up the musical so I could better understand the context of the song,” Little said. “ I immediately fell in love with the songs and message of the show.”
While the witty dialogue and atmospheric lighting shifts stood out, the message of this show is what truly made it something special. As Warren and Deb wander the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Warren points out how much he loves a painting of apples. Deb is perplexed by this, as the painting is simply of ordinary objects. However, Warren notes that ordinary objects are beautiful if we choose to see them as so. This is a central theme to the musical. There is beauty in the normal moments of our lives – it isn’t always about the big picture.
Perhaps the most stunning moment of the show came towards the end, when flyers that Warren had been handing out in the opening scene make a reappearance. On each paper is an encouraging message. As Warren stands on the rooftop of a building with Deb, he speaks about his feelings of insignificance while beginning to throw the flyers into the air. The theater bursts into a rainbow of colors as the papers float down in clouds from all sides. People in the city begin to flock to the colors, including Claire and Jason. This is a culminating moment for the show, as Deb realizes that she has actually kept one of Warren’s encouragement flyers in her bag. It is at that moment that Warren realizes how his actions can positively affect other people.
We are all connected in this life, and there is beauty in the places where our stories intersect. It took the dedication and talent of many individuals to create this show. The musical was an excellent reminder of the artistry that comes from ordinary people gathering together in extraordinary ways.