Theatre: The Last Five Years
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 Hiatt, "Still Hurting."
No matter how I tried,
All I could do was love you
And let you go...
— Jamie Wellerstein, "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You."
A one-act, two-person musical
by Jason Robert Brown (the Tony-winning composer behind Parade
and, more lately, 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 Hiatt, 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 Anachronic Order
involved: the introspective Cathy tells the story Back to Front
, starting 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 Wedding Day. 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 Stephen Sondheim
, 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.
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