The Last Five Years
Having thoroughly enjoyed the soundtrack, the show could offer little surprise in the form of plot twists. So the only thing that could surprise me about the Chance Theatre’s production of the show is how the show actually flows…because the soundtrack is never enough. Their decision to stage it around a hexagon raised portion of the stage brings different aspects of the performance to prominence, highlighting the ups and downs that Jamie and Cathy’s relationship goes through. Another really cool bit was the use of the “boxes.” The stage was bare most of the time except for two boxes that move toward the front and then back to the rear of the stage as the show progresses, mirroring the relationship as it comes back together and shatters apart.
Because I don’t like to be extremely judgmental with material that I mostly enjoy, I am very hesitant to mention the vocal performances here. Jamie (Bob Simpson)…I didn’t feel he had the voice to sing this part…I found out afterwards that he was sick, but I don’t know if that’s enough…also whenever he used it, I felt that his vibrato was too powerful and didn’t have a nice effect in my head. Cathy (Jocelyn A. Brown) was very nice, but at times she too seemed a little out of her range. What really focused me in on the vocal performances was the way the whole thing sounded: at times I could barely hear them singing. It’s not that the orchestra (3 pieces…more in a minute) was overpowering them, it’s that (I think) they weren’t projecting enough…and I just don’t know what this says about the whole thing.
The orchestra was piano, guitar and bass and I wasn’t happy because it didn’t sound like the soundtrack. They did a good job and I’m sure they had to do this for budget reasons or something, but I love the way the violin and viola highlight the emotions of the soundtrack and I REALLY missed them. But it was still good…just not what I wanted (so much for not being judgmental ;).
One especially interesting thing about this production was the “Talk-Back” section, where the characters came back out, in character, and answered the audiences questions about them. It was kind of like an episode of Dr. Phil (I’m guessing, since I don’t watch it), and it was just interesting to observe as an actor, because this is the kind of in-depth thinking that should go into the creation of a character and this Q&A really brings the level of detail the actors had to the fore instead of just being an aspect of their performance.
Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years
Directed by Oanh Nguyen
Musically Directed by Rob Blaney
Cathy – Jocelyn A. Brown
Jamie – Bob Simpson