In the so-real-you-can-almost-taste-it New York City conjured up by playwright Adam Gwon in Ordinary Days, the slightest connection – brushing up against a stranger, or reading a bit of paper you’ve found on the sidewalk – can lead to something truly extraordinary. In a city of strangers, everyone has a story, and who can predict what’ll go on the blank pages remaining?
Tampa’s Stageworks Theatre opens Ordinary Days tonight. It’s a musical in the most honest sense of the word – every scene is sung, with little-to-no actual dialogue – and director Karla Hartley has tapped four of the bay area’s finest singing actors for her cast.
Alison Burns, Ricky Cona, Tron Montgomery and Heather Krueger have all appeared, over recent years, in Stageworks shows. Vocally, they are all four magnificent in Ordinary Days.
Burns, most recently seen on this side of the bay in Pippin (freeFall) and Mamma Mia! (American Stage), is a St. Petersburg resident, where she teaches voice and acting. Montgomery, too, is a St. Pete resident. He is employed by the city’s Department of Sanitation.
“All actors need a day job, you know?” Montgomery laughs. “The good part of being a garbage worker, you see things no one else would see. I actually love the job. It made me a better person, because you appreciate the finer things of life. So when I actually have the time to get off from driving that garbage truck, I appreciate theater to the highest level.”
And who says you can’t take it with you? “All the guys on at the route, they clearly know that I’m heavy into performing arts. They call me The Star on the Truck. I sing all day – it’s the only way to learn your lines! I sing them.”
Montgomery left his Broward County home in 2005 to take the lead role in the Busch Gardens theatrical production KaTonga: Musical Tales. When the show closed four years later, he started turning up on stages all over Pinellas County. “You name the community theater, I’ve probably been on that stage,” he says. “From Eight O’Clock to St. Pete Little Theatre. Everywhere.”
In 2015, he made his Stageworks debut in Ain’t Misbehavin.’
Burns, who’d never worked with Montgomery, gives him high praise. “He’s really talented, and really funny,” she enthuses. “He’s kind of a breath of fresh air; he walks in with real zest for what he’s doing.
“He comes in and knocks us all out with a gorgeous voice and such a sweet presence. He’s always excited to be there. So it’s been a real joy to get to work with him.”
Ninety-nine percent of Montgomery’s scenes are with Krueger, while Burns and Cona share a different storyline. There is, however, an all-for-one attitude that Montgomery finds fascinating – and essential. “When it’s a large cast, you can just depend on yourself,” he explains, “make sure my lines are perfectly fine. But when it’s a smaller cast, we all have to be a force together to make this show great. We all depend on each other; it makes the show powerful.”
For Montgomery, the common denominator in the complex mathematics of Ordinary Days is director Hartley. “She’s a legend, I’ll call her that. She picked four heavy-talented cast members. And it’s a musical that no one couldn’t love. You’re going to love it more than anything. The stories collide, but it’s all based out of the busiest city in the United States. And the songs are great.
“Ordinary Days is not your ordinary musical.”
Tickets and info here.
In the audio interview below, Karla Hartley and Alison Burns talk about Ordinary Days, Tampa vs. St Pete professional theater, the drive across the bay and more (Tron Montgomery wasn’t available the day this was recorded):