Days Like Today is a crazy, mixed-up love story that makes a whole lot of sense while revealing and reveling in the nonsense of love. It’s fresh, funny, insightful, happy, sad and, above all sympathetic. Only a first-rate production by perfect (uh oh! perfect is, as you will learn, a problematic term! but in this case, I’ll chance it!) cast could keep this story from being cloying and crazy.
Let’s start there. With “perfect:”
At the very beginning of the play, the dear, sweet (oh, so sweet, lovely bride-to-be) says “Love is perfect.” As if on cue, I crossed my arms. So did the man next to me. I looked around the rest of the audience—about a 1/3 had crossed their arms. There were a couple well-known critics in the audience and I tried to see if they did, too, but couldn’t find them in the dark.
We were off to quite a start. And we had no idea what surprises lay ahead! And I’m not going to tell you, either. Let’s just say that if you came in thinking love is perfect, you probably didn’t leave thinking so.
However, maybe triumphant, understanding, and tolerant trumps “perfect:” The book by Laura Eason creates love triangles that are based on mounting insecurities and strange liaisons more like trapezoids. But the songs, dancing, unpredictable but not preposterous plot twists hold your attention and your care.
That outstanding cast…
You can’t help but root for every one of these very real, very lovable characters:
Emily Berman’s Tessa is a beautiful bride-to-be; Will Mobley, her own true love couldn’t be more lovable.
Paramours Jeff Parker and Stephen Shellhardt managed to be, if not proper mates, believably appropriate partners for the parents.
Jared Zimmerman, the groom who got away, reminds everyone of the time when we just couldn’t face a problem and headed for the door.
Alan Schmuckler’s music and lyrics provide just the right artistic lift to carry this often poignant, sometimes awkward, always plausible story right into your heart (where it comfortably plays at your heart strings).
Tommy Rapley’s choreography provided the glide and grace to enhance this dance of romance.
Almost 5 years in development…
Artistic Director Michael Halberstam helmed this production which began its development at Writers Theater in 2009. Ultimately, Alan Schmuckler (We Three Lizas, among others) created this original piece inspired by Charles Mee.
Everyone of the cast members--from the groom-that-got-away to the pizza delivery boy with the PhD in the Classics (coincidentally like the father-of-the-bride), to the mother-of-bride who was married to Frank but has an affair with François—was real, true, genuine.
And then there’s the REAL back story!
Historically, this is a very significant production because it is the last production that will take place at the Tudor Court venue. That is particularly significant to the look and feel of the set because, since the building will be demolished at the end of the run of the play anyway, the back wall was knocked out to deepen the set.Scenic Designer Scott Bradley took full advantage of the immense, deep space and created a gorgeous, flexible set which still retained the intimacy Writers is noted for. In addition, this created a space for the outstanding orchestra which we could see a bit and enjoy a lot.
Until the new venue is complete, look for more great theater at Books on Vernon, Writers’ “other intimate space.”
Photos: Michael Brosilow
For tickets and information, visit the Writers Theatre website,