PEMCo to perform “Ordinary Days”
Andrea Vale | Wednesday, September 9, 2015
PEMCo (Pasquerilla East Musical Company) is staging a production of “Ordinary Days” this weekend, from Sept. 10 to Sept. 12 in Washington Hall Lab Theatre.
Senior co-producer Meg Gegick said the musical is set in post-9/11 New York City and revolves around “four normal people in New York City just living their lives.”
“This show celebrates the beauty in the every day,” she said. “It is what happens in our daily life that really shapes us.”
The four characters — Claire, Jason, Warren and Deb — are played, respectively, by Meghan Cain, Joel Ostdiek, Jacob Schrimpf and Rose Urankar.
“Each of these characters, in their own way, is in constant motion, dealing with day-to-day stress,” Cain said. “For my character Claire, it is the stress of her boyfriend moving in with her. … The problem with motion … is that sometimes it makes us forget to appreciate the little things. This show reminds us that there is beauty in the mundane.”
“It’s a show that is immediately accessible for people our age,” Ostdiek said. “The characters experience growing pains as they transition into new stages in their lives, and they maneuver the challenges of discovering who they are as they grow up.”
The show is entirely student-run, with students serving as actors, producers, directors and crew members.
“We were given free reign with a lot of the choices we made,” Cain said. “It was so thrilling to have so much control over something, even terrifying at times, but it is so much more rewarding because we feel like we have really created something together.”
“It’s a testament to the dedication and drive of Notre Dame students that an entirely student-run musical theatre company can not only exist but thrive on this campus,” Ostdiek said. “The level of professionalism that the producing team has displayed is incredible. Every member of the production is passionate about the work, and we bring the expectation that we are going to create the best theatre that we possibly can.”
According to Gegick, time pressures resulting from PEMCo’s decision to produce a second musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” within the same semester as “Ordinary Days” have contributed to a uniquely rushed preparation period.
“We knew our show had to be within the first month of school, which is pretty crazy,” Gegick said. “For reference, a typical PEMCo production would rehearse for at least six weeks before the show opens, and we had about three. … Director Quint Mediate had such a clear vision for this show and knew exactly how to execute it.”
Gegick said music director, Allison D’Ambrosia, stage manager, Kelsey Dool, propmasters Alex Joyce and Mario Simone, tech director, Tommy Favorite, and costume director, Paula Hastings also showed great dedication to the show, succeeding her expectations even under strict deadlines.
Gegick’s fellow co-producers are Lesley Stevenson and Evie Bauman. Jon Olansen serves as the show’s Executive Producer.
“Pulling a show together in this short of time requires that every person on the team be absolutely on top of their game,” Ostdiek said. “There is really no margin for error in terms of wasting rehearsal time. Everyone has come in to the process focused and prepared. … Our rehearsal tonight would’ve made me think we’ve been rehearsing for months, not just a few weeks.”
Besides the short amount of time PEMCo had to prepare, working with a cast of only four also contributed to a one-of-a-kind rehearsal process.
“Working with a cast of four is exciting,” Ostdiek said. “This small of a cast necessitates that everyone give their all to the show in order for it to succeed, and I’ve been amazed by the dedication from everyone involved.”
Additionally, the show is unique in its execution in the extremely small space of the Washington Hall Lab Theatre, which is a black box theatre, Ostdiek said.
“The show is extremely intimate, in the sense that there is a small cast in a small theatre,” he said. “The relationship between actors and audience, to me, is very unique.
“These characters are exposing their vulnerabilities to the audience. At times, we directly address the people in the seats. The experience of watching the show requires both actors and audience alike to be a little vulnerable, which is refreshing and exciting.”
“We really felt that the best moments of this show would be lost in the large Mainstage Theatre in Washington Hall,” Gegick said. “ … We really wanted the audience to feel like they are just watching the world of these characters unfold before them, and I think we achieved that.”
The fact that the show is set in post-9/11 New York City and is being performed on fourteenth anniversary of 9/11 holds particular significance for the cast and crew.
“I think it is significant because this show can be seen as a love letter to New York City,” Gegick said. “These characters spend some of the show complaining about the city — the noise, the crowds, the smells. But, it is their home, and even when presented with opportunities to leave, they all elect to stay. That being said, I think it is a celebration of this crazy city who overcame a terrible tragedy in their own home.”
“I hope that the show can reach as many people as possible on campus, especially those who don’t normally consider themselves theatre-goers,” Ostdiek said. “This show is fantastic regardless of if you typically enjoy musicals. It’s an accessible story about four ordinary people going through the same struggles that we all face, especially seniors who are about to graduate and find their footing in the ‘real world.’ It’s also tightly paced — the show only runs 78 minutes. It’s the sort of show that can both provide entertainment and cause an audience to reflect on their own lives.”
“We want our first-years, but really every student, to come see what PEMCo has set for this year,” Gegick said. “I think the tone of this show — upbeat, yet unique — is very in line with what PEMCo tries to bring to the Notre Dame community. I want people to come for the entertainment, the fun, the laughs, the songs. Hopefully, we can help people see the beauty in their ‘Ordinary Days.’”
Gegick said PEMCo’s Mainstage Musical will be announced at the closing performance, during which time audience members will be able to guess which one of five shows will performed. Those who guess correctly will be entered in to win two tickets to the show in February.
According to the PEMCo website, the show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. from Sept. 10 through Sept. 12, with an additional show at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are on sale now at the LaFortune Box Office and cost $7 for students and $10 for general admission.