Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years is a contemporary classic, exploring the life and death of love through the marriage of Cathy Hiatt and Jamie Wellerstein. This weekend, Brown’s sublime story comes to life as Musical Forum’s latest production. Directed by Andrew Ganem ’16 and Hannah Margolin ’16, this rendition of The Last Five Years is absolutely phenomenal; every element–from the dynamic orchestra to the electrifying voice of each actor–is brimming with passion.
The script, consisting of monologue-songs that alternate between the two characters (each of whom progresses in chronological opposition to the other), approaches the arc of passion from all angles, providing unparalleled insight into the tragedy of failed love through its unique narrative form. This approach forces the viewer into a constant struggle between riding the excitement of the relationship’s beginning and bearing the weight of its devastating end. Brown’s story, complete with all its juxtapositions, nostalgia, and irony, engages the viewer and becomes an emotional rollercoaster for every audience member.
However, Musical Forum’s rendition of The Last Five Years is so much more than its script; this breathtaking rendition transforms Brown’s love story into an almost visceral experience.
The production is characterized by its stunning dynamics across all fronts. The set, designed by Evan Finkle ’15 and Emma Margulies ’18, is constantly transforming before the viewer’s eye, while the lighting, directed by Ben Chesler ’15 and Emma Davis ’17, perfectly accentuates every moment. Even the props, devised by Wendy Ginsberg ’15, have lives of their own, evoking humor and brutal irony at pivotal moments.