If you attended Audra McDonald’s ravishing concert last year at the Warnors Theatre, you probably were captivated by her rendition of “I’ll Be Here” from the new musical “Ordinary Days.” Now you have the chance to see the show itself in Fresno. (It opens Friday and continues through Dec. 8.) I talked with director Anthony Taylor about his new Organic Theater Factory production for a story in Friday’s 7 section. Here’s the extended version of that interview:
Question: What is the show about?
Answer: “Ordinary Days” is the story about the relationships and connections of four people living in New York City. Some of the relationships are direct and some of the connections are passing, but it’s a story about how we DO all connect and how we find friendship and love in the most obvious AND most surprising places.
Pictured: Ashley Taylor, Terry Lewis, Dominic Grijalva and Taylor Abels. (Photo by Kristin Goehring.)
Tell me a little about the composer and why you wanted to do this show.
Adam Gwon is an amazing composer and lyricist. I found his work on newmusicaltheatre.com when I was producing the cabaret for “Glory Days” last year. I fell in love with the music of “Ordinary Days” instantly. The show was Off-Broadway in 2009 and there is so much humor/romance/perspective in the music, that I knew the show as a whole HAD to be good. I ordered a perusal copy of the script soon after “Glory Days” closed and I’ve been pining after it for awhile.
Personally, I’ve also wanted to get my creative hands on these creative folks for some time. Gwon’s score calls for a single piano and Laurie King is simply one of the best. Terry Lewis is a good friend and amazing actor, but we’ve never really gotten to work together directly before. Dominic Grijalva is a fantastic young actor whom I’ve done a few shows with, and seeing him in “Spring Awakening” made me realize that he NEEDS to be doing new musical theater like this. Taylor Abels is a sister to me and is one of the most talented human beings I know. Kristin Goehring, our stage manager, has been a founding member of OTF and this is the last time I get to have her fantastic producing abilities help run my show. And my beautiful and talented wife, Ashley Taylor, has been a huge driving force to produce this show as well. The challenge of directing someone so talented who shares a home with you is something I’m definitely up for.
This production seemed to come together quickly. When did you decide you wanted to stage “Ordinary Days”? How did Hurricane Sandy affect your preparations?
Actors were booked a couple of months ago, but Hurricane Sandy definitely put a glitch in the process for us. We lost 5 rehearsals that were on the schedule before everything happened. That being said, the cast are all incredibly talented and dedicated and I’m already certain that come opening night, they will be tearing it up at The Voice Shop.
What can you tell me about the staging?
We’re back at The Voice Shop on Wishon in the Tower District. I love the space there. The show takes us all over the city from apartments to The Met to Central Park to cabs and subways, but because the show is sung through with no intermissions and very little dialogue, I didn’t want to break the momentum of the piece with a lot of bulky scene changes. We’ve found some clever ways to show where our characters are physically and emotionally.
Also, we will performing the show with NO MICROPHONES! The piece only uses a piano for accompaniment and the space is so small, we don’t feel we need them. That means you’ll be hearing some of Fresno’s best voices as they were meant to be heard with no compression or amplification. I’m very excited about that.
Anything else I should know?
Just that it’s a great show that I think Fresno audiences are really going to enjoy. It’s not a holiday show, per se, but it IS about people and relationships and connecting. It’s a story that shows a slice of life of these four people and how they change and come together. AND it’s about the same price as a movie…so how bout that?
Also, I’d love people to come out to Taylor’s Cabaret on Saturday, December 1st at 10pm. All donations given at the cabaret will go to helping Taylor Abels and Kristin Goehring as they plan their move to NYC next year.