A review by: Sophia Dilley
Going into The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know what the plot was, except that the rating was more mature for some adult themes and language. What I learned is that this is a story of a five year relationship between Catherine (Cathy) Hiatt and Jamie (Jamie) Wellerstein, told from two perspectives; Jamie's story starts at the beginning and works toward the end while Cathy tells the story starting at the end and working backwards toward the beginning. The only time the two come together in the timeline is for one song in the middle: their wedding day.
My overall impression of the musical itself was that it consisted of mostly three different moods. Those moods are sadness, anger and joy. Throughout the story I could feel and hear each emotion the characters were feeling through the use of tonality and phrasing. Those moods were very much the recurring themes of the musical itself.
The piano, although it was the accompaniment, helped the performers by setting the scene for what was about to happen and could give the audience a hint as to what was about to happen in the next scene before the performers even said a word.
The first song that I would like to talk about is the opening piece called "Still Hurting". In the relationship timeline, this piece directly follows the last song of the show. When the character, Cathy, sang this song I could instantly hear the hurt and pain in her voice; but at the same time her expressions showed that she was also conflicted too. She felt that she was getting all of the blame for why the relationship fell apart and didn't work out. There were lots of legato phrases with a smooth texture. There was an impactful moment in the middle of the song marked by a big crescendo.
She even mentioned her ex, Jamie, running away from his problems which left me confused but looking back and better understanding the timeline I get it now. Throughout this piece Katie Stuelke (Cathy) was able to capture that raw emotion of post break-up which can be very difficult to not only capture in voice but in expression as well. Throughout this song Katie was really true to the character and what her character was experiencing during that moment in that particular song.
Another song, "Moving Too Fast", talks about success. Jamie sings rather triumphantly throughout this song while keeping the rhythm rather constant but occasionally changing to make a comment on how successful he is. Throughout the song, he boasts about being a successful writer and how he's moving up in the world. Throughout the beginning of the song he gradually crescendos until he speaks of moving in with Cathy. He then quickly changes the subject back to being about himself and how his ego is increasing and how he's "big stuff" now. However, at the end of his song, there is a slight twinkle of doubt that all of this success could leave him as quickly as it had come. Throughout this song I was constantly impressed by Tyler Hagy (Jamie) and his ability to capture the range of emotions. This song was energetic for the majority of the song yet at the end of it almost completely out of the blue it changes to a somber, slower mood of not quite fear but uncertainty.
Overall, I had an amazing time and I hope that this review will encourage you to go and see this musical for yourselves. These performers put a lot of hard work into this performance and I'm sure that you'll see it reflected throughout every performance of
The Last Five Years.
*Showtimes are Friday, Feb. 28 at 7pm, Saturday Feb. 29 at 7pm, and Sunday Mar. 1 at 2pm. Tickets are available online now at www.act1.org