Cedar City, Utah is known for one major theatre festival, however, the southern part of Utah is no stranger to other theatre festivals and theatre productions of all kinds. The Simon Fest, soon to be known as the American Crossroads Theatre, held at the Heritage Theatre in historic downtown Cedar City has opened up their 2024 season with the musical Ordinary Days, with music and lyrics by Adam Gwon. Having made its premiere in 2008 in London, Ordinary Days has had a few notable productions around the world, but is not as well known as it honestly should be. Directed here in Cedar City by Alyson King Wheeler, this sung through production with a cast of four players and their experience of ordinary days in New York City was nothing short of lovely.

The first, and perhaps most important element to discuss about this small yet significant production is the skillful pianist, Kipper Roach. As mentioned, this is a fully sung through two act musical. Instead of having canned music, something all too common in the theatres throughout the state, the production team chose to have a pianist play this complicated score. The capabilities of Roach were astonishing, and the fact that he interacted with the cast, added flavor to the show, and allowed for amusing improvisation, such as in the song Calm, sung impressively by Deb, played by the delightful Marquessa Farnsworth. The live piano in that song allowed Farnsworth to play on her panic for as long as she needed to, which was helpful for the belief in that moment.

The next element that was powerful in its simplicity was the set design by Jaymes Wheeler. With a small skyline in the back to represent NYC, the majority of the city was represented by moving scaffolding that hardworking crew members maneuvered throughout the production. This left the audience filling in the blanks with our imagination, which actually works well in these smaller productions that are more about the music and human connection than the spectacle. 

Alek Jordan, as Warren, was another standout in this production. Before the show began he was out interacting with the audience, and his jovial personality was so quaint that I might not have realized he was a part of the cast if it was not for the hint of a stage microphone that someone who attends too many productions is highly likely to spy. He handed me a flier that said soon, without warning, your life is going to start, which did indeed tie into the show later in a beautiful way. 

The cast is rounded out with Holly Barrick as Claire and Phillip Jensen as Jason. The plot is simple enough. Jason and Claire are looking to figure out the next steps in their relationship. Deb is a graduate student trying to figure out how to move her life forward. Warren works for an artist who’s vision got halted and Warren is trying to keep that vision alive. We see how the paths cross and how the simplicity of life can be beautiful when people choose to see it. In fact, the final song, Beautiful, served as an exquisite reminder that “beauty comes from reflection”. This is why reflective criticism of theatre is important. Often just witnessing a production without reflecting on it, we may miss the beauty. 

Some of the beauty in this production that could be missed would be the song “Gotta Get Out” by Barrick that truly shows the panic that happens when good things happen but we are not ready for it. Not only does Barrick have a fantastic voice that was truly lovely to listen to, but she also infused excellent characterization into that number. Another thing of beauty was the rooftop duet where much of the plot comes together in fantastic fashion. While Jordan as Warren and Farnsworth as Deb stood on top of the scaffolding representing an apartment building, Barrick as Claire and Jensen as Jason represented people on the street witnessing flyers of sayings falling to the ground, and the audience sees how little moments can connect together in different lives to bring joy, sadness, any number of emotions in beautiful ways. 

As was written on one of Warren’s fliers, for “beauty to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.” Many of these lesser known shows are often the better productions that I see. The more popular shows in Southern Utah sell out, but the simplicity of Ordinary Days left me seeing beauty. 

Ordinary Days plays at various times Wednesdays-Saturdays through August 3rd as part of the SimonFest in Cedar City at the Heritage Theatre, 105 N 100 E Cedar City, Utah, 84720. Tickets are $18-30. For more information https://simonfest.org/