Extraordinary moments

AACI’s J-Town Playhouse troupe brings a slice of Big Apple life to the Holy City with the off-Broadway musical "Ordinary Days."

THE CAST of J-Town Playhouse Theater’s production of the off-Broadway musical ‘Ordinary Days. (photo credit: ITA ARBIT)
THE CAST of J-Town Playhouse Theater’s production of the off-Broadway musical ‘Ordinary Days.
(photo credit: ITA ARBIT)
Ordinary Days, the beloved and refreshing off-Broadway musical by Adam Gwon, is now entertaining audiences in Jerusalem.
The show revolves around four young people in New York City as they juggle careers, romance and happiness.
A J-Town Playhouse Theater production, Ordinary Days runs until March 9 at the AAC I theater. Director Aviella Trapido sat down with the Jerusalem Post to discuss New York City, September 11 and finding beauty in the ordinary.
What is the show about?
It’s called Ordinary Days, but I think the show is anything but ordinary.
It’s about finding the beauty in ordinary things. It’s a refreshingly honest and funny musical about making real connections in New York City, which is the city that never sleeps, but probably should at some point.
It tells the story of four young New Yorkers whose lives intersect as they search for happiness, success, fulfillment, love and taxi cabs. It’s a really brilliant and vibrant score with beautiful music. All their experiences ring very true to life. I think that everyone could relate to some part. It’s also an original musical, written and composed by Adam Gwon, who is very much an up-and-coming composer on the Broadway scene. Ordinary Days has been playing off-Broadway for several years now. It touches on a lot of beautiful sentiments.
Was ‘Ordinary Days’ ever on Broadway?
No, it’s only a one act show with no intermission. It’s always playing off-Broadway. The very first production opened in 2008. Since then, it’s played all over the world in Barcelona, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Scotland, New Zealand – all over. It’s been put on by a company in Tel Aviv, where it was truncated into Hebrew, but we’re the first company in Israel to do it in English.
Have you seen the show?
Yes, I saw it a couple of years ago and I fell in love with it. The first song I heard was a song called “I’ll Be Here,” which is sung by one of the characters who recounts her experience of 9/11 and the day she lost her husband.
It’s very relatable to anyone. I’m not American, yet even I remember where I was when 9/11 happened. I had never been to New York, I didn’t even know what the World Trade Center was, but I still remember where I was standing.
I remember watching the TV screen and thinking that it was a incredibly horrific event and an unimaginable loss of life. So it had an impact on me.
The show revolves around these four New Yorkers and how one of them was personally impacted by 9/11. She is trying to move on with her life after such an event. That song resonated with me. A few months ago, I got to go to New York for the first time in my life and as I walked around, I had the music of the show running through my head and I knew that it was time to put on the show.
After getting a taste of New York, I just had to do it. I wanted to bring it to the Jerusalem audience. In terms of directing musicals, I try to find the ones that are less done, or in this case, not done at all here. I tried to bring something different.
So you spearheaded the idea of putting on the first English version of ‘Ordinary Days’ in Jerusalem?
Yeah and I’ve been very fortunate because I have a crazy talented cast of four people. All of them are wellknown actors in Jerusalem. We also have a brilliant musical director, so it’s the best of the best. The payoff for us though is when people come, support the show and enjoy it. I mentioned 9/11, which is a very somber event, but there are also lots of funny and quirky parts of the show. The audience will be laughing, crying; emotions all over the place.
What are you hoping that the audience takes away?
I think that life is what you make it.
Life is constantly changing; nothing ever stays the same and it’s all how you choose to perceive things. That’s the message for me. Life is comprised of the choices you make. None of us are passive and nothing is ever ordinary; it’s what you choose to do with it. The musical is all about looking at various challenges and choices that one has to make in life and deciding not only what you’re going to do, but how you’re going to let that impact your life. That’s a lesson that all of us learn forever. It helps you find the beauty in the ordinary because really nothing is.
Right now, we are saturated with so many conflicting messages with the media and everything that’s happened post-election. The world is feeling extremely unsettled and up in arms. This is such a great way to take a step away from your daily routine and go see something really special that leaves you feeling uplifted. The music is gorgeous, it makes you feel like you’re taking a deep breath. I hope that our audiences leave the theater feeling like they’ve had a nice break.
We’re drowning in information, but we’re lacking in wisdom. I think this show will leave people feeling a little lighter and a little better.