Extraordinary (The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Woman) is a one-act 2-actor musical about a woman celebrating her 90th birthday. What is unusual about this particular celebration, however, is that she has invited her 18-year old self to join the party. She hopes to be reminded of the hopes and dreams she had at 18, but is instead faced with the many choices, and perhaps compromises, she has made throughout her life. She set out as a young woman to become “extraordinary”. What she discovers is that, despite her life not having unfolded as she had expected, she has become extraordinary in ways she had never anticipated.
Jim wrote Extraordinary to celebrate his mother’s own 90th birthday, and the first performance of the piece was on that date, and played in front of his mother, her family and her friends. The show was subsequently toured by Smile Theatre in 2009, then revived by Smile, and by Young At Heart Theatre in PEI, in 2013. It is currently scheduled for a Canadian tour in the Spring of 2014.
The following is the Program Note from the 2013 Smile Theatre production:
“Extraordinary is not what I expected it would be. When I set out to write a play about my mother, as part of a celebration of her 90th birthday, I thought I had a pretty good idea what her life had been like. But what do children really know about their parents? I invited her to write down some memories of her own childhood, which she did. She also pulled out some old photographs I had never seen. Then she told me some stories I had never heard. And suddenly, the woman I thought I knew had transformed into a woman I was amazed to know. The women of my mother’s generation were expected to conform to the somewhat restrictive gender roles of ther day. Women with imagination, curiosity and creativity often struggled to find ways to fully express themselves, or to contribute something significant to the wider community. My mother managed, in her own quiet way, to do both. And I found it immensely satisfying to realize that, after writing some of the details of her life into this theatrical “celebration”, that others were able to see themselves celebrated in it as well. Although my mother’s story is unique, there is a universality to her experience that others seem to have recognized and shared. So, although Extraordinary (The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Woman) is first and foremost a celebration of my own mother’s life, it is dedicated to everyone who has shared her experiences.”
The following is the 2013 Smile Theatre version of the script.
The following are song demos taken from the 2013 Smile Theatre production, and feature singers Lorretta Bailey and Toni MacRae, with Michael Mulrooney on the piano.
“Anyone Can Change The World” (Lorretta Bailey)
“Extraordinary” (Toni MacRae)
“Almost As If It Were Yesterday” (Lorretta Bailey)
“Dr. Boyd” (Lorretta Bailey and Toni MacRae)
“Road Trip (The Meals On Wheels Song)” (Lorretta Bailey and Toni MacRae)
“An Art Song” (Toni MacRae)
“Glasses And A Smile” (Lorretta Bailey)
“When I Grow Up/Extraordinary (Reprise)” (Lorretta Bailey and Toni MacRae)
Production enquiries can be emailed to Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org