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| The Last Five Years |
Music: Jason Robert Brown
The Last Five Years is a production, and this is a general overview of that production.
The Last 5 Years is a contemporary one act musical written by Jason Robert Brown. It premiered at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skoki, Illinois on May 23, 2001 by Northlight Theatre. The male character, Jamie Wellerstein, was played by Norbert Leo Butz, and the female character, Catherine (Cathy) Hiatt, was played by Lauren Kennedy.
The first New York production of The Last 5 Years was at the Minetta Lane Theater on February 11, 2002. The first press opening was March 3, 2002, and the show closed May 5, 2002. Norbert Leo Butz continued to play Jamie Wellerstein; however, because Lauren Kennedy had a previous theatrical commitment, Sherie Rene Scott premiered in the role of Cathy Hiatt. Since its off-Broadway closing in 2002, The Last 5 Years has had numerous productions all over the United States and has been seen in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, and the UK.
The Last 5 Years examines the five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress. Unlike most musicals, this show uses a unique storytelling approach where Jamie travels chronologically in time, from the beginning of the relationship to the end, while Cathy travels backwards in time, from the end of the relationship to the beginning. Because Jamie and Cathy travel in opposing time lines, the only direct contact between the two occurs during their engagement/wedding song in “The Next Ten Minutes." This show is an intensely personal examination of the rise and fall of a relationship, the games couples’ play, and the multidimensionality of a person.
The Last 5 Years was based on the tumultuous marriage between Jason Robert Brown, the composer, and his former wife, Theresa O’Neill. Because the character, Cathy, held numerous similarities to O’Neill, O’Neill took legal action against Brown. This lawsuit prompted Brown to distinguish Cathy from O’Neill, and the dispute was settled just before the New York premiere in 2002.
As the musical opens, Cathy is sitting alone in her apartment grieving her failed marriage to Jamie, who has just recently moved out (“Still Hurting”). As Cathy finishes singing, Jamie appears on stage ready for his first date with Cathy five years earlier. Although Jamie is perplexed by the idea that Cathy is not Jewish like him, he becomes infatuated with her by the end of the date (“Shiksa Goddess”).
Cathy reappears on stage sitting on a pier in Ohio with Jamie. Jamie has come to visit her for her birthday while she performs in a summer stock theatre. In “See I’m Smiling,” Cathy shows her eagerness to better their failing marriage; however, she becomes enraged when Jamie tells her he is heading back to New York, which starts an argument. Cathy claims that only thinks of himself, his writing career, his friends, and his “little girlfriends.” During breaks in Cathy’s song, Jamie, years earlier, talks to an agent about his newly written book. Jamie's literary success has begun.
The musical moves away from the pier to several years earlier where Jamie tells a friend of his plans to move in with Cathy. Everything looks promising for Jamie as his relationship with Cathy is strong and his first book is being published in the Atlantic Monthly. Jamie does realize a developing separation and alienation of Cathy from his work; however, he claims that everything will be fine and that life is good in “Moving Too Fast.” Cathy; however, reveals her struggle as an actress with a call to her agent.
Cathy is then sitting at one of Jamie’s book signings. She claims that, although he has become distant and obsessed with his work, she is still deeply in love with him and proud of all he does (“A Part of That”). Her dependence on Jamie becomes ever more apparent, and she has lost her sense of self through following him.
The musical switches to the first Christmas Jamie and Cathy spend together. He tells her his newly written fable about an old tailor named Schmuel whProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0
is helped along by a magical clock to figure out his dreams (The Schmuel Song”). Jamie relates Schmuel to Cathy and tells her to figure out her dreams and go for them. Jamie ends by giving Cathy her Christmas present, a watch.
This is a summary of act II.
This describes any professional productions of the show that have taken place, be they Broadway, West End, Off-Broadway, Touring, etc.
Four Seasons Theatre - Madison, Wisconsin - November, 2005