Flyleaf Theater Company is one of the few companies in Berlin, Massachusetts and its surrounding areas, continuing its strong trend of introducing and performing new and edgy theatre productions. Their newest production, Ordinary Days, is a song cycle about the way that four lives intersect in New York City in the most unexpected ways. What could easily be cliché and trivial becomes beautifully simple and entertaining under the talented quartet, lead by Director Krisha Hoyt and Music Director J. Parker Eldridge. The musical, a song cycle, succeeds under the charming commitment from its cast, Amanda Casale Eldridge (Claire), Jennifer Drummond Morotto (Deb), Skylar Grossman (Jason), and Joshua Wright (Warren), who excel at the challenging music full of life. Their storytelling makes us feel like we have four new friends, a beautiful testament to the possible humanity and opportunity to connect with people in your twenties and thirties.
The musical introduces us to the sunny and congenial Warren (Joshua Wright), an aspiring artist, who sings about the city’s potential, despite his menial job handing out fliers in “One by One by One.” Wright’s impressive range, as both of a singer and actor, is perfectly showcased in this role; he lets go vocally and introduces us to the composer’s smooth songwriting from the opening number. Hoyt creates the chaos of living in a big city perfectly with the four busy actors catching cabs, walking to their apartments, and running errands, a pandemonium of movement. By utilizing the theatre-in-the-round configuration to keep the action occurring all around, the production takes a steady tempo and keeps a brisk pace. The production is modest, but grand in its intimacy. The emphasis is on Adam Gwon’s endearing lyrics and tender melodies. The musical feels like a giant love letter to the wonder and magic of being young and full of possibility.
And the possibilities are endless with this committed and endearing cast. Deb (Jennifer Drummond Morotto) walks the fine line between cynicism and humor, a Daria with a belt. Morotto captures the hesitation, the frustration, and the confusion of trying to make it as a graduate student in the city. Her preoccupation with herself and her problems is relatable, but her emergence as someone who is capable of caring and empathy is a beautiful sight. She struggles under some of Deb’s more verbose lyrics and her diction could use more practice, but her facial expressions more than make up for any lost words. Her interactions with Wright’s Warren are adorable in their awkwardness, but burst with opportunity, especially in “Sort-of Fairy Tale.” Meanwhile, one of the most endearing and relatable parts of the show is watching Jason (Skylar Grossman) and Claire (Amanda Casale Eldridge) navigate their first apartment as a couple. Grossman is magnetic when he is onstage and plays an unexpected goofball boyfriend with a strong bari-tenor voice, especially in his lullaby-like “Favorite Places.” Eldridge matches him in enthusiasm and sweetness, and she sheds her layers as a person with each song. Each song adds dimension and provides clarity to the inner Claire, leading to a chilling “I’ll Be Here” and some of the strongest character development in an otherwise stunning cast of characters.
With seventeen musical numbers and an eighty-minute running time, it’s difficult to find a favorite song or moment from the show. The musical is written as vignettes, which reveal the rich complexity of growing, learning, trying, struggling, succeeding, and living with and without the many other people in this complicated world. The songs are cleverly interpreted throughout the production, telling each character’s life through each song, whether they are featured as a singer or not. The beautiful symphony of action and sound, interaction and silence, humor and pathos, show the best of these actors’ ranges as performers. Under J. Parker Eldridge’s musical direction and simple orchestration (a keyboard), the melodies reveal life’s beautiful sounds and the stories that we tell about our life while we’re in our prime. Hoyt adds projections to keep the action moving and show of the same beauty in the pictures and backdrops of the scenes.
Flyleaf Theater Company is doing smart and rarely-done work in talented company in Berlin, Massachusetts. If you like to do theatre brimming with possibilities and if you like to see productions that are not typically performed in the Greater Boston area, then you should take the journey to see Flyleaf Theatre Company. The emphasis is on the cast and the stories without the distractions of fancy technical details or designs. The beauty is how well they can assemble these casts and tell these stories. They will keep you laughing and smiling, singing and crying, as they remind us of how we only need to open our eyes to life’s possibilities and the beautiful people around us. Then, every day is an “Ordinary Day,” and how special is that.