The Last Five Years
Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by William Hemmer
Presented by Music Theatre International and Bright Eyes Productions
This is not a spoiler—from the very beginning of The Last Five Years, you know how it ends. And even tough it does not end well, the journey to its sad conclusion is a lovely one.
This one-act musical is perfect to kick off the Hollywood Fringe Festival, balancing enough polish with just the right amount of unusual. (It’s also slated to run long past the Festival, until July 24. Lucky you.) The Last Five Years is a semi-autobiographical piece written and composed by Jason Robert Brown; it first premiered in 2001 and has been produced off Broadway and several other places, including London and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
There are only two characters—Jamie and Cathy—and they tell the story of their five year romance, marriage, and break-up. Except that Cathy tells the story in reverse chronology while Jamie takes the expected clockwise route. They meet in the middle when their sequences inevitably overlap and they’re both happy.
Jamie, played by Rory Alexander, is a young, successful novelist who is so pleased with himself that he even makes other narcissists envious. Cathy is a struggling actress played by Ashley Cuellar. But there is certainly no similar real life struggle for Ms. Cuellar who—scene after scene and song after song—knocks it out of the park with ease and without the acting showing.
The songs range from silly holiday fare to first love dreaming to it’s over now, all belted out with style and enthusiasm. And while the set is sparse to maintain focus on the music, there is nothing but lushness in the musical department, headed up by Musical Director Ron Snyder. While Alexander and Cueller are the only two people on the stage, the score is definitely another vital character. Hats off to Nancy Kuo on violin, Yuichiro Kevin Asami on guitar, Jay Rubottom on bass, and Ron Snyder on keyboard.
Listening to the audience chatter as we shuffled out of the theatre, the men were on Jamie’s side and the women on Ashley’s. Clearly everyone’s buttons got pushed somewhere along the way. You should push some buttons yourself and get your tickets asap. Available online here or call (323) 960-5770 to order by phone.
6201 Santa Monica Blvd (map)
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Street parking, so plan accordingly. There is no late seating.
This theatre has concessions.
Now through Sunday, Jul 24
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 7:00 p.m.
Running time is about 85 minutes with no intermission.
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