Fangirls, it’s no secret to my friends that I’m a musical fan. I have been for most of my life. I love seeing them, I love listening to them, I love blasting them from my car with my windows down while I sing along. And I especially love discovering new musicals.
A few years ago during my senior year of college, I discovered one of my favorite musical performers would be in a show called The Last Five Years a couple of hours away from where I was at school. So I took to the internet and asked my friends if they’d heard of the musical and was it worth it for me to go. One of my friends was adamant that I had to go and could not pass up the opportunity to see this one live. I took her advice, and I am so glad I did.
The Last Five Years is a love story by Jason Robert Brown that focuses on two people, Jamie and Cathy. In fact, in the stage show, they’re the only characters we meet. The show only has the two actors, and through most of the show the two actors don’t interact with each other, even if they’re singing directly to the character. I know this can seem confusing, and it’s about to get more so. The show is told in the most unique way I’ve ever seen. The audience sees both sides of the love story, but Cathy’s side starts at the end of the five years and works its way to the beginning while Jamie starts at the beginning and works its way to the end.
Confused? I definitely was a little lost when I heard about it. I’d never heard of a show doing this before. But I decided to give it a chance. I bought a ticket, talked with a few friends who were also going, and plotted out my trip. The one regret for the trip? I didn’t buy the most amazing soundtrack before seeing it.
I am so glad I went to this show. Yes it was a basic love story with its ups and downs. But it was done in such a unique way and the way it was done was something I’d never heard of or seen before. But it was incredible to witness. There’s one song kind of early on where Cathy and Jamie are fighting and the only one on stage and singing is Cathy, but you truly can feel Jamie there and sense what his side of the argument would be. And the music in this show is so beautiful and catchy and emotional. You almost can’t help but fall in love with the story unfolding in front of you. If there is a production happening near you, go for it. You won’t regret it.
If there isn’t a stage version near you yet, I also recommend the movie version that came out this year starring Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick. I’ll admit, when I heard there was a movie version I was nervous. How could they possibly convey the unique story telling way that the stage version has with film? The answer is, though it wasn’t completely like the stage version (obviously they needed more than two actors), it held that uniqueness quite well.
Whenever the characters were on stage singing, you knew they were singing to someone else but unless it was specifically Jamie or Cathy, you weren’t sure who. With the movie, even though they showed you the situations and the group or individual who was being spoken to, you didn’t feel that that extra person was intruding the scene. They were just there, part of the scene without really being part of it. Even with scenes where it’s just Cathy and Jamie, yes this time the other person is there but they are intruding too much on what the main character of the song is singing or doing. I think for a film version of such a unique show, it did very well.
The Last Five Years is a show that will stick with you. Whether it’s the story, the music, the unique aspects of it, or all of the above. If you get the chance to experience it, take it. I’m glad I did.
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