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The Extraordinary Ordinary

This new musical about six ordinary New Yorkers feels overlong and often unbelievable. logo
Pamela Bob, Kelly McCormick and Courtney Balan
in The Extraordinary Ordinary
(© Michael Portantiere)
In The Extraordinary Ordinary, a new musical with book and lyrics by Scott Burkell and music by Paul Loesel now premiering at the Clurman Theatre -- "ordinary" turns out to be the operative word.

There's nothing very special about these six rather generic New Yorkers, except the fact that -- unlike real Manhattanites -- they seem to have no concerns regarding job security or the search for a decent, affordable apartment. Comfortably middle-class and approaching middle age, these former college chums (plus a very young love interest) reunite regularly for the apparent purpose of congratulating themselves on their comfortable lot in life.

Fortunately for the show's forward motion, some conflicts eventually do emerge. Zach (Patrick Oliver Jones) is jealous of the easy rapport that his wife, Bev (Kelly McCormick), has with her friend Karen (Courtney Balan), their single-and-searching hostess for the evening -- especially since the couple's own intimacy has evidently eroded.

Meanhwile, Joey (Jonathan Parkey), the student with whom Sam (Kristofer Cusick) has hooked up via Craigslist, feels a bit out of his depth and socially awkward, and Sam and Zach commiserate about their unfulfilling jobs.

The only member of the group not overtly experiencing unease is the designated kook, Kate (Pamela Bob), whose function is signaled by a wild-and-crazy wardrobe. But even she wonders whether she's wasting her time with her soccer-coach boyfriend, who remains resolutely off-stage, unseen and unheard-from. He'd rather watch sports on TV than hang out with her buds.

You might wish you had that option, especially since the show seems needlessly overlong at 2 ½ hours, and only a handful of songs (notably "A Sorta Love Song" and "I'll Jump") break through the monotony of filler couplets.

The second act truly beggars belief, in suggesting that a man might reach maturity (and then some) without acquiring the slightest inkling as to his true sexual orientation. (Moreover, do none of his supposed friends suspect that he might be not so much bi-curious as clinically depressed?) Meanwhile, Kate and Karen engage in a sniggery duet, "If We Were," about the advantages they both might enjoy as lesbians, if only they could stomach the prospect of exploring "down there."

The actors give the thin material their all. Still, you never get the sense of watching a believable cluster of fully fleshed-out friends.

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