The Last Five Years
|The Last Five Years|
2002 Album Cover
|Music||Jason Robert Brown|
|Lyrics||Jason Robert Brown|
|Book||Jason Robert Brown|
2007 Edinburgh Fringe
2013 Off-Broadway revival
The Last Five Years is a musical written by Jason Robert Brown. It premiered at Chicago's Northlight Theatre in 2001 and was then produced Off-Broadway in March 2002. Since then it has had numerous productions both in the United States and internationally.
The story explores a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hyatt, a struggling actress. The show uses a form of storytelling in which Cathy's story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and Jamie's is told in chronological order (starting just after the couple have first met). The characters do not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines intersect.
The Last Five Years was inspired by Brown's failed marriage to Theresa O'Neill. O'Neill threatened legal action on the grounds the story of the musical represented her relationship with Brown too closely, and Brown changed the song "I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You" to "Shiksa Goddess" in order to reduce the similarity between the character Cathy and O'Neill.
Cathy is sitting alone lamenting the end of her marriage ("Still Hurting"). We shift to meet Jamie. It is five years earlier and he has just met Cathy. Jamie is obsessed with his "Shiksa Goddess".
Cathy and Jamie are in Ohio. It is her birthday and he has come to visit her as she works in a show there ("See I'm Smiling"). She is anxious to fix any problems in their marriage but she becomes angry when Jamie tells her he has to go back early to New York. During breaks in the music, we see a younger Jamie, talking to a literary agent about his book.
Jamie is moving in with Cathy. He comments on how lucky he is that everything is going right for him; his book is being published and his life with Cathy seems too good to be true ("Moving Too Fast"). Elsewhere an older Cathy is making a call to her agent: it seems her career isn't going the way she planned it.
Cathy is attending Jamie's book party. She sings about how he ignores her for his writing but she will always be in love with him ("I'm a Part of That").
Jamie and Cathy celebrate their first Christmas. He tells her a new story he has written about an old tailor named Schmuel and he gives her a Christmas present: a watch ("The Schmuel Song").
The duet between Jamie and Cathy in "The Next Ten Minutes", as performed by Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz on the 2002 Off-Broadway cast recording.
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Cathy is in Ohio and writing to Jamie. She describes to Jamie her disappointing life in Ohio among her eccentric colleagues ("A Summer in Ohio").
Jamie is sitting with Cathy in Central Park. Jamie proposes to her and, for the first time in the musical, they sing together ("The Next Ten Minutes"). They get married, exchanging vows to stay together forever.
Jamie is facing temptation from other women, especially now his career as a writer has escalated ("A Miracle Would Happen"). Cathy, meanwhile, is auditioning for the job in Ohio ("When You Come Home to Me"). She is getting down about the rejection she faces as an actress and complains to her father ("Climbing Uphill").
Jamie speaks to Cathy on the phone, trying to convince her that there is nothing going on with him and his editor, Elise. He wants to celebrate a book review but Cathy refuses to go out.
Jamie is fighting with Cathy, trying to get her to listen to him. He accuses her of being unsupportive of his career just because hers is failing. Though his words are harsh, he promises her that he believes in her ("If I Didn't Believe in You").
A younger Cathy is in the car with Jamie, who is going to meet her parents. She tells him about her past relationships and hopes not to end up in a small town life like her friend from high school ("I Can Do Better Than That"). She asks Jamie to move in with her.
Near the end of the relationship Jamie wakes up beside another woman ("Nobody Needs to Know"). He tries to defend his actions and blames Cathy for destroying his privacy and their relationship. Jamie promises not to lie to this woman and tells her, that "I could be in love with someone like you," just as he does to Cathy in "Shiksa Goddess."
Cathy is ecstatic after her first date with Jamie. She sings goodbye ("Goodbye Until Tomorrow"). She proclaims that she has been waiting for Jamie her whole life. Simultaneously but five years forward, Jamie sits in their shared apartment writing laments over the relationship ("I Could Never Rescue You"). As Cathy waves Jamie "goodbye until tomorrow", Jamie wishes Cathy simply "goodbye".
The musical style draws on a number of musical genres, including pop, jazz, and classical, klezmer, Latin, Rock, and Folk. The orchestration consists of piano/celesta, guitar, bass, two cellos, and violin.
- "Still Hurting" (Cathy)
- "Shiksa Goddess" (Jamie) *Replaced "I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You" from the Chicago production
- "See I'm Smiling" (Cathy)
- "Moving Too Fast" (Jamie)
- "I'm A Part of That" (Cathy)
- "The Schmuel Song" (Jamie)
- "A Summer in Ohio" (Cathy)
- "The Next Ten Minutes" (Jamie & Cathy)
- "A Miracle Would Happen/When You Come Home to Me" (Jamie/Cathy)
- "Climbing Uphill/Audition Sequence" (Cathy)
- "If I Didn't Believe in You" (Jamie)
- "I Can Do Better Than That" (Cathy)
- "Nobody Needs to Know" (Jamie)
- "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You" (Cathy/Jamie)
- Source: MTI Shows song list
Original Chicago production
The show debuted at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Illinois in 2001, running from May–July 1. The production starred Lauren Kennedy as Cathy and Norbert Leo Butz as Jamie. Kennedy had a previous commitment (a role in South Pacific in London) and was replaced by Sherie Rene Scott. Scott, therefore, performed the vocals on the cast recording.
The show opened Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre on March 3, 2002 and closed May 5, 2002. Directed by Daisy Prince, Butz and Scott again starred. The production won the 2002 Drama Desk Award for outstanding music and lyrics, as well as receiving Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Actor, Outstanding Actress, Outstanding Orchestrations, and Outstanding Set Design. It also received the Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Actor, and the Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical.
The show was presented at the Actor's Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida running from December 5 to 30, 2012. Directed by David Arisco and starring Janet Dacal and Christopher A. Kent.
The show was revived in 2013 Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre for a limited engagement with Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe in the roles of Jamie and Cathy, respectively. Brown himself directed.
The show was produced in Paris, France in 2013 by American Musical Theatre Live  directed by Stéphane Ly-Cuong with musical direction by John Florencio featuring Miranda Crispin and Jonathan Wagner.
- Vogel, Scott." Young Composer's Wonder 'Years'" Washington Post, June 17, 2005
- "The Last Five Years Original Off-Broadway Cast". Cast Albums. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Harp, Justin. "Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan for 'Last Five Years' musical adaptation". Retrieved 2013-03-04.
- Jones, Kenneth.Marriage Dissected: Brown's Musical, Last Five Years, Opening May 23 in IL" Playbill.com, May 23, 2001
- Article talkinbroadway, 2003
- Brantley, Ben.Novelist and an Actress Sharing a Leaky Boat" The New York Times, March 4, 2002
- Jones, Kenneth; Simonson, Robert."Drama Desk Awards Announced; Goat, Metamorphoses Tie for Best Play, Millie Scores" Playbill.com, May 20, 2002
- Thomason, John (December 9, 2012). "Love Burns and Chills at Actors Playhouse's The Last Five Years". MiamiNewTimes.com. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Hetrick, Adam (May 30, 2012). "Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years Will Get Off-Broadway Revival at Second Stage". Playbill.com. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- "Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years Will Make Paris Debut". Playbill. June 7, 2013.
- "The Last Five Years" à l'Auguste Théâtre de Paris". Musical Avenue. June 6, 2013.
- Gioia, Michael. "Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick Will Explore The Last Five Years On Screen in Richard LaGravenese Adaptation". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
- The Last Five Years at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- New York Times review, March 4, 2002 (requires registration)
- Curtain Up review, March 2002
- The Last Five Years at the Music Theatre International website