[[caption-width-right:251:The full, two-membered cast in the only moment they sing together.]]

-> ''Give me a day, Jamie.\\
Bring back the lies,\\
Hang them back on the wall -\\
Maybe I'd see\\
How you could be\\
So certain that we\\
Had no chance at all ...''
-->-- '''Cathy Hyatt''', "Still Hurting."

->''No matter how I tried,''
->''All I could do was love you''
->''[[TearJerker And let you go]]...''.
-->-- '''Jamie Wellerstein''', "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You."

A one-act, two-person [[TheMusical musical]] by Jason Robert Brown (the Tony-winning composer behind ''Theatre/{{Parade}}'' and, more lately, ''Theatre/{{Thirteen}}''), ''The Last Five Years'' tells the story of an ordinary couple as they fall in - and out of - love, inspired by Brown's own failed first marriage. Jamie Wellerstein, a successful Jewish novelist, and Cathy Hyatt, a struggling Irish-Catholic actress, become rapidly involved with each other and get married, but their own personal demons inevitably drive them apart.

What's unique about the show is its structure. The score consists of alternating solos; Cathy or Jamie occupy the stage separately, sometimes singing to each other and sometimes to friends and family. Furthermore, there is AnachronicOrder involved: the introspective Cathy tells the story BackToFront, starting [[ForegoneConclusion after Jamie has left her]] and moving towards their first date; the reckless Jamie starts at the beginning and moves forwards towards the divorce. The timelines cross just once: at the exact halfway mark of the show, on Jamie and Cathy's WeddingDay. The show's structure accents its characters, whose careers are moving in very different directions and who, despite their love, are fundamentally at odds with each other.

The score's wit and emotional maturity has been favourably compared to StephenSondheim, whilst Brown's music draws on a wide range of styles that include rock 'n' roll, latin, contemporary pop and Jerome Kern, yet still with a degree of theatrical complexity.

!!This work provides examples of:

* AbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder: Jamie starts his affair whilst Cathy is off touring in Ohio.
* AllMenArePerverts: Explored, rather honestly, by Jamie in "A Miracle Would Happen".
* AllMusicalsAreAdaptations: Averted; the plot is an original one, although inspired by Jason Robert Brown's failed marriage to his first wife.
* AnachronicOrder: As stated above, Cathy's scenes start in the present and each one moves further back in time.
* AudienceMonologue: Although extremely common in musical theatre, here it's consciously avoided; all the songs are addressed to a specific character, though that character is played by anyone.
* BSODSong: Jamie's "Nobody Needs To Know" is noticeably bleaker than anything that's come before, and seems to mark the point at which Jamie gives up on his marriage.
* ClingyJealousGirl: Cathy exhibits signs of this, as she is possessive of Jamie and suspicious of his female fans and publisher long before he actually has an affair. In fact, in "Nobody Needs To Know", Jamie even cites her behaviour as what drives him to have an affair in the first place:
--> ''All that I ask for is one little corner,\\
One private room at the back of my heart.\\
Tell her I found one, she sends out battalions\\
To claim it and blow it apart.''
* CounterpointDuet: The end of "Goodbye Until Tomorrow / I Could Never Rescue You".
* CutSong: At least two that we know of:
** Cathy's second song was originally "What's Wrong With Him?", a comedy song with Cathy on the couch, singing to her psychologist. Apparently the joke [[OverlyLongGag outstayed its welcome]] and it was replaced with "See I'm Smiling".
** In the original Chicago production, Jamie's first song was "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You", a more nervy first-date number. That song in particular was the subject of an injunction by Brown's ex-wife, with whom Brown had an agreement that he wouldn't write about their marriage; several details in the show were changed to mollify her, and this song was worked into "Shiksa Goddess".
* DarkReprise: Several, including:
** Jamie's "I could be in love with someone like you" theme, originally addressed to Cathy, is later (and miserably) addressed to his mistress, Elise.
** Cathy's "You, and you, and nothing but you" theme, originally a celebration of her love for Jamie, later becomes an accusation of his selfishness. (Technically a ''pre-prise'', since Cathy is moving backwards in time and the reprise comes first...)
** Most damningly, the haunting, romantic waltz theme that plays throughout the show - and is even used as Jamie and Cathy's wedding dance - turns out to be "I Could Never Rescue You", Jamie's final farewell to his marriage.
* DeadpanSnarker: Both of the leads, but especially Jamie.
* DistantDuet: Sort of. In the finale, "Goodbye Until Tomorrow / I Could Never Rescue You", Jamie and Cathy are separated by time; however, they don't exactly sing the same song so much as two songs that overlap each other.
* DownerEnding: Apart from the obvious-the breakdown of their marriage-in the end, Cathy is still trapped in the summer stock hell that is Ohio, and it's possible that Jamie's meteoric streak is waning.
* DrowningOurRomanticSorrows: "A Miracle Would Happen" takes place in a bar, where Jamie is complaining to his best friend, Rob, about the struggles of married life.
* FadingIntoTheNextSong: Often used to maintain dramatic momentum.
* FinalLoveDuet: Sort of (see DistantDuet, above). For Cathy it's a love song; for Jamie, it's an out-of-love song.
* ForegoneConclusion: The show starts with Cathy's line "Jamie is over and Jamie is gone".
* HeyItsThatGuy: Jamie is [[Literature/{{Wicked}} a Winkie prince]], also once [[{{RENT}} a has-been rockstar]] and that guy from Dan in Real Life. Cathy is [[Disney/TheLittleMermaid an evil octopus]], a [[{{Aida}} heart-broken pharaoh/statue]] and was once [[{{RENT}} a bisexual performance artist]]. Oh, and both were in the Next to Normal workshop "Feeling Electric" as Dan and Diana. They were playing a married couple. Again. With none other than [[{{RENT}} Anthony Rapp]] as their psychiatrist. Also, both were in ''DirtyRottenScoundrels'', though they get more shared stage time there.
* IAmSong: For Cathy, it's "Climbing Uphill"; for Jamie, it's "Moving Too Fast". Both songs are about their careers, but are also indicative of their general approach to life (and hence the direction we see them moving through time).
* IWantSong:
** In "Shiksa Goddess", Jamie proclaims that what he wants more than anything is a girlfriend who ''isn't'' Jewish.
** In "I Can Do Better Than That", Cathy wants to escape the suburban fate of her school friends, but still wants to find true love, too.
* IWillWaitForYou: Cathy has a knowingly reflexive audition song to this effect, "When You Come Home To Me".
* LongDistanceRelationship: With Cathy touring in summer stock and Jamie out schmoozing the publishing set, this becomes a major factor in the couple's break-up.
* LoveHurts
* LoveMartyr: Cathy.
* LoveTriangle: Jamie, Cathy and Jamie's mistress, Elise.
* MinimalistCast
* SanitySlippageSong: A funny one for Cathy, with her crazy inner-monologue version of "When You Come Home To Me"; also darker ones for Cathy ("See I'm Smiling") and Jamie ("Nobody Needs To Know") as they each face the breakdown of their marriage.
* ShiksaGoddess: A whole song by this title!
* ShoutOut: Cathy's line "just keep rolling along" and Jamie's line "I keep rolling on" may be a shout-out to another anachronic musical, StephenSondheim's notorious ''MerrilyWeRollAlong''.
* SomewhereSong: Given a passing nod in Jamie's "A Miracle Would Happen", in which he imagines a world with no other distractions (particularly female ones) where he could concentrate on his marriage with Cathy.
* TruckDriversGearChange: Played straight a couple of times—several key changes in a row towards the end of "Movin' Too Fast," the finale "Goodbye Until Tomorrow"—but subverted in "Nobody Needs To Know," which is in A-flat for its entirety up until the last six measures, when it modulates ''down'' a half-step into G major.
* UnwantedHarem: In "A Miracle Would Happen" Jamie laments that, no sooner is he married, his literary success suddenly makes him a huge hit with lots of co-ed undergrads.
** As time passes, it becomes clear that its not the harem thats unwanted, but his wifes disapproval.
* WeddingDay: The moving "The Next Ten Minutes".
* WhenSheSmiles: GenderFlipped in "A Part of That."
* WriteWhoYouKnow: to the point that Brown's ex-wife sued him. TropesAreNotGood, Jason!
* YourCheatingHeart: In "Nobody Needs to Know."