The premise is simple, but told in a complex way. A man and woman meet, fall in love, grow apart, and split up. The unique thing about this familiar story is that one half of the couple tells the story (through song) chronologically, while the other half is simultaneously working through the story backwards from the end. The show begins with a heartbroken Cathy singing about the end of her marriage and a newly lovestruck Jamie singing about this girl he just met. The two timelines cross in the middle when Jamie proposes to Cathy, and continue on to their ultimate conclusions - Cathy happy and hopeful at the beginning of the relationship, Jamie sad and conflicted at the end. It's quite fascinating to watch a relationship grow and disintegrate at the same time, and see how much these two people love each other but realize that they just can't make it work.
|Matt Rein as Jamie|
and Sarah Shervey as Cathy
On the small stage at the Hillcrest Center Theater, the four-piece band is behind a screen. The forefront of the stage consists of a few city sketches as backdrop, with simply a chair and table for furniture (set design by Dan Wold). There's very little transition time lost between scenes as one song flows into the next. In a piece like this, less is more.
There's no question that Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years is deserving of its popularity, and I welcomed the chance to spend more time with it. This is a nice production with a charming and talented cast, and a simple staging that lets the story and the songs shine through. Playing weekends only through March 2.
*I was told that both leads were sick with colds on the day I saw the show, so they might not have been at their best. But what I saw was still pretty great.