LUMP to present ‘The Last Five Years’

Karl McComas-Reichl

This week Lawrence University Musical Production is presenting Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years.” For those who missed it on Thursday, there are still shows today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. in Cloak Theatre. Directed by Jacob Allen, the story chronicles the relationship of writer Jamie Wellerstein, played by Patrick Ireland, ’06, and actress Catherine Hiett, played by Elaine Moran, ’05. The presence of only two characters in the show makes for a stark and intense look at close, personal relationships. This production is both Moran and Ireland’s senior theater project.
Brown presents the story from both characters’ perspectives simultaneously. Jamie’s perspective is played out from the beginning to the end of the relationship, while Cathy’s perspective moves backwards, from her breakup with Jamie to the first time she meets him. Only in the middle of the show do the timelines correspond. This happens at Jamie and Catherine’s wedding. The play has a surprisingly intricate plot, with both humorous and heartfelt lyrics in addition to beautiful music.
Allen first encountered the work of Jason Robert Brown only a few years ago, and was immediately impressed with his theatrical and song-writing talents. “The Last Five Years” is a song-cycle, or a group of songs performed in an order that establishes a musical continuity related to an underlying conceptual theme. In this case, that theme is the five-year relationship between Cathy and Jamie.
“Brown has managed to create specific moments, in a life and a relationship, that seem genuine through careful use of rhythm and melody,” Allen said of the musical. “Brown has found ways to combine today’s more popular musical theater styles with moments that clearly draw back into the theatrical past.”
Musicals about relationships are not out of the ordinary, but “The Last Five Years” depicts a relationship in a fresh and unconventional way. The play draws attention to the idiosyncrasies of how we examine our personal relationships.
Tickets are free for LU students, $5 for other students, and $10 for adults. Call the Lawrence box office at (920) 832-6749 for more information.