If you think musical theater's not for you, check out
the Philadelphia Theatre Company's unforgettable
production of Jason Robert Brown's marvelously
contemporary pocket musical The Last Five Years.
Easily the finest offering yet from the new wave of
musical theater composers, Brown's score is diverse
and inventive. Flawlessly directed by Joe Calarco (his
integration of set, lighting and projections is
inspired), L5Y is a breakout show not only for Brown,
but its two young stars as well.
Wickedly appealing and vocally superb, both Nicole Van
Giesen (Cathy) and Wayne Wilcox (Jamie) are
magnificent at portraying the giddy exuberance and
intense emotional insecurity that comes with young
love. But L5Y is no romantic fairy tale. It's an
intimate look at both the optimism of first love and
the deep scars that come with the realization that
love is not always enough.
As Cathy remembers their relationship from last moment
to first and Jamie from start to finish, L5Y's unique
structure puts the isolated lovers on a course to meet
up somewhere in the middle of the 90-minute
production. And when they finally convene during the
show's only duet (the beautifully composed "The Next
Ten Minutes"), it's one of the most romantic odes to
love since two star-crossed lovers got together
beneath an envious moon in Shakespeare's Romeo and
Sadly, 10 minutes in five years is the only intimacy
possible for this couple. In a more hopeful moment
Jamie sings, "In a perfect world a miracle would
happen," but there are no 11th-hour reconciliations or
happy endings here--only the bumps, bruises and beauty
that love provides.