April 28, 2013

JRB's The Last Five Years


As soon as Betsy Wolfe sang the lines "Jamie is over and Jamie is gone.....", which are the first lines from The Last Five Years, I was already in tears.  I knew how sad this piece is from Jason Robert Brown.  It's a 2 person musical about love, marriage and losing each other.  Told from 2 perspectives, Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist and Cathy Hyatt, an aspiring actress.  Jamie's story is told from the time he meets Cathy to the dissolution of their marriage while Cathy's story is told backwards from the break-up to their first date.  The characters don't really interact in this peice and their story coverges only in the middle during their wedding.  This unique  narrative style further emphasizes the disconnect between these two people. 

It is somber, very intimate and honest.  It is said that it is based on the failed first marriage of JRB.   I was familiar with the cast album and have always wanted to see a production of it because of JRB's music.  His catchy melodies combined with his clever and sincere lyrics grab at you.  Very affecting.  But he also manages to inject humour and nostalgia in his songs. 

In this production at Second Stage, Adam Kantor plays Jamie while Betsy Wolfe plays Cathy.  Both are excellent in their roles.  Mr. Kantor's voice reminds you of Norbert Leo Butz who played Jamie in the original production back in 2002.  Ms. Wolfe is funny and fragile as Cathy.  What is equally impressive in this production directed by JRB himself is the simplicity of the staging.  Just letting the songs themselves reach and move the audience.  It was also nice to see the band on tiers on the bricked back wall of the stage. 

I admit that sometimes I am easily moved to tears but hearing sniffles from the audience during the matinee on April 20th, clearly I wasn't the only one.  The Last Five Years will only play until May 18, 2013 so don't miss it!

Some photos I took that day:
Second Stage Building was a former bank


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