Review / Collective has character, if not polish

Theatre / “Ordinary Days”. Music and lyrics by Adam Gwon. Performed by Collective Theatre. Until December 9. Review by John Lombard.

Andrew Howes, Jett Chudleigh and Jess Osvald in “Ordinary Days”.

COLLECTIVE Theatre gets attention just from the extreme youth of its participants – from cast to crew to front of house, this is theatre created and run exclusively by high-school students, with the only adults in sight watching from the audience.
For their debut production the team has chosen a light opera by Adam Gwon, the New York slice of life “Ordinary Days”.
This was an inspired choice: the piece is short, light and extremely focused, with only four characters mostly delivering monologues directly to the audience. The focus on everyday conflicts is also charming – a squabble over a bottle of wine or simply getting lost in a museum become moments of mock opera.
The piece also lends itself well to rudimentary staging, with accompaniment restricted to the keyboard and the set constructed mostly out of stacked cardboard boxes.
The performances have character if not polish, perhaps because of the collegiate way the show has been shaped and directed. Musically the cast often struggles: everyone is noticeably flat.
The best performance comes from Jett Chudleigh, who has strong stage presence and a clear voice, but she too veers off key.
Staging a musical is an ambitious undertaking and there is something inspiring at how Collective Theatre has chosen to tackle all aspects of the production.
As it develops its technical skills, it will be interesting to see what kind of shows the collective will create, but “Ordinary Days” is a show that will appeal most to a high-school audience.

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