Musical Forum Presents: The Last Five Years

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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.

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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.

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Sock & Buskin presents: HEIST PLAY

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The idea of a collaborative, spontaneously-created script is evident in almost all aspects of HEIST PLAY, directed and written by Skylar Fox ’15. The three-act play follows a group of criminals, not unlike the teams in heist movies we’ve come to love, as they plan and execute a heist.

Yet HEIST PLAY, which is still being workshopped by Fox, ventures beyond the cliché world of heist films. Each character is unique and idiosyncratic, brought to life in an unparalleled way due to the intense connection formed between the character and the actor. There is no “lead” part, though Evan Finkle ’15 plays the team’s beloved leader; instead, all of the actors work together as a team, each bringing their own unique personality and contributions to the story.

In an interview, Fox was quick to praise his dedicated cast and crew, citing them as integral collaborators in the devising process. “What happens in the play specifically revolves around the people who auditioned and what they created… I thought I knew something about a character and I thought I knew how I wanted them to do something, and then I’d be like ‘oh no, that was way more right than my idea.’”

This ubiquitous collaboration transforms HEIST PLAY into a uniquely mortal experience. “Coming from the very two-dimensional world of characters in heist films,” Fox remarks, “I really wanted them to be able to develop into very three-dimensional, interesting, strange characters. I thought the best way to do that was to develop them with a company of actors.” Continue Reading