Thursday, May 22, 2008

Take The Next 10 Minutes To Reserve For The Last 5 Years - Musical Review

The Last 5 Years - Bread & Circus Theatre Bar - Toronto, ON
Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown, Directed by Jenny Salisbury

I finally saw another musical that I quite love but have never actually seen. The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown one-act musical that ran Off-Broadway a few years ago and spawned a cast recording featuring Sherie Rene Scott (The Little Mermaid) and Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked, Rent, Is He Dead?) that I think has develop a sort of cult following.

I know Jason Robert Brown is sort of the next coming of the smart musical writer (think junior Sondheim) but I never really appreciated (or knew) his stuff until I saw Parade at the Donmar last year. He writes really intricate and thoughtful musicals that are no less melodic, with some of the most complex and gorgeous music in any recent musicals. (I'm actually seeing his new musical 13 at Goodspeed in a few weeks, which is apparently moving to Broadway later this fall).

The Last 5 Years, a smaller and more intimate piece, is no less grande and complicated, telling the 5 year relationship and break up of Jamie and Cathy through opposing views. Cathy's point of view is told in reverse while Jamie's is told forward in regular chronilogical order, with each singing siloquies to each other in separate timelines, only meeting for a duet in the middle of the show when Jamie proposed to Cathy. It's a terrifically simple twist that is executed extremely cleverly but OH the music! Simply lovely and gorgeous!

A small theatre company Footpath Productions is producing this small gem of a musical in the intimate bar space in the heart of Kensington Market and while the production is low on production settings, it's high on talent, with Scott Pietrangelo and Karita Mullins as Jamie and Cathy, who alone together, must carry the entire show of tricky vocals and convincing acting in a complicated telling of a simple story. While Mullins seemed to have a bit of first night jitters, her voice was lovely and she was superb at playing, what's debatable, the more difficult part being told backwards, while Pietrangelo, apparently straight out of school, has a fantastic voice and an endearing demeanor.

They are accompanied with simply a pianist (the excellent Aaron Eyre (though out of discretion, is a friend of a friend)) but between the three performers, I'm amazed at how great Brown's music sounded, a testament to both the performers and Brown's original score.

The show runs May 21- May 24th and then again May 27th -31st at 8pm
At the bread & circus theatre and bar in Kensington Market at 193½ Baldwin St. Toronto
Tickets are only $15 and well worth the price to see fresh young talent tackling a beautiful little musical.
The facebook page has 647 281 1397 to call for reservations but it's such a small production, that it's the main actor Scott's phone.

The Last 5 Years - Bread & Circus Theatre Bar - Toronto, ON **** (4 stars out of 5)

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