by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
The Last Five Years, a romantic yet realistic musical by Jason Robert Brown, has received worldwide acclaim since its 2001 premiere in Chicago. The actors and directors of the Visalia Players upcoming production universally proclaimed their love for the show.
“I’ve always wanted to direct this show,” exclaimed Co-Director Charlotte Garcia Da Rosa. “I heard the soundtrack ten years ago, and it tore me to pieces. Brown’s music is so moving. He magically orchestrates reality through beautiful music.”
Musical Director Adam Long is enthusiastic about the unique way the story is told. “You don’t generally get the reverse of a story and how it intertwines with the present.” Long is referring to Brown’s interesting use of chronology to tell the story of two young lovers and their attempts at maintaining a relationship.
Cathy’s story starts at the end of their relationship with “Still Hurting,” and Jamie’s story begins with the enthusiasm and exuberance of young love in “Shiksa Goddess.” Their stories go back and forth until converging with “The Next Ten Minutes.” As it happens with relationships, nothing stays the same. The stories again diverge until “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” and “I Could Never Rescue You.”
Co-Director Antony Lotenero described the challenges of a two-person musical and one that uses chronology and reverse chronology. “Space is an issue. With most musicals you need space, but with this show a big space can be isolating. This is an intimate show that requires character development along with physical and visual clues to time and place.”
The actors expressed love for the reality of the show. “It is easily the most real musical I’ve ever done,” noted Michael Seitz who portrays Jamie. “It is extremely emotionally touching. Everyone will have something to relate to in this musical.”
Natalie Anders (Cathy) agreed with Seitz, and then commented on her challenge with the show. “Cathy’s story starts at the end which makes it emotionally difficult. It’s hard to start with the ending emotions and go backward rather than starting at the beginning with the joy and building to the end.”
Another facet of the show on which the actors and directors agree is the beauty and challenge of the music. “Brown is the new Sondheim,” says Da Rosa, “and we have the talent to do this work.” Seitz notes, “It’s the hardest music I’ve ever sung. You hear a message of tones and finally you sing those tones. It’s amazing.”
Long described the music as “piano driven, but the other instruments add a layer of depth that supports and enhances the emotions of the characters.” To the keyboard, Long added a string ensemble of cello, violin, guitar, and bass. “In this intimate setting, every instrument is important.”
When discussing the show’s message, Da Rosa said, “It’s a very special intimate theatrical experience that teaches the audience the importance of love and being honest with yourself and your partner. It shows how working to stay in a relationship for a lifetime is fleeting these days. It reminds people why it’s important to work for lasting relationships.”
Da Rosa was clearly excited about being in the Ice House again. “The Last Five Years is a show that needs to be done and needs to be done well. This is the first theatre that I remember. I was a child running around backstage. This was my grandmother’s (Alexis Evans) theatre. It was time to come home.”
The Last Five Years opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 4, 2016, and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 11/4-5, 11/11-12, 11/18-19, and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 11/6, 11/13, and 11/20.
NOTE: The play contains adult language and content.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
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To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLLFY in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.