Tuner 'Years' back under knife
Writer's ex-wife took legal action after prod'n's world preem
Every musical undergoes a few changes in previews, But lawyers are usually not involved.
Controversy continues to swirl around "The Last Five Years," by Jason Robert Brown, set to open March 3 at the Minetta Lane Theater. Brown's ex-wife, Theresa O'Neill, reportedly made legal rumblings after the tuner held its world premiere last year at the Northlight Theater in Skokie, Ill. Since the two-hander charts the rise and fall of a married couple, someone was said to have felt the show too closely resembled her own failed marriage.

Those legal difficulties were said to be resolved before the current Off Broadway production officially announced its Gotham preem. Lawyers from both sides reportedly met as recently as early this month to look at the script, however, even though the show has been in rehearsals since January.

Return to revision

As it turns out, a few issues needed further resolution, which have resulted in textual changes to the show.

Most alterations to the book have to do with the female character of Cathy, played by Sherie Rene Scott, best known for her turn as Amneris in the original cast of "Aida." In the recently revised version of "The Last Five Years," Scott's character is no longer Irish and her profession has been changed from actress to singer. Norbert Leo Butz plays the male lead character, Jamie; he remains a Jewish novelist but his opening number has been replaced by a ballad sung by Scott. Butz recently starred in "Thou Shalt Not" on Broadway.

John Barlow, a spokesman for the show, would not comment except to say, "The dispute has been amicably resolved."

Sked change

Lincoln Center Theater originally commissioned "Last Five Years" and had been expected to stage the musical. Three seasons ago, LCT produced Brown's musical "Parade." When the nonprofit org passed on presenting "Last Five Years," potential legal problems with the project were mentioned in the press but not confirmed by either Brown or LCT. Shortly thereafter, Marty Bell and Arielle Tepper took over as the musical's commercial producers.

Daisy Prince directed the Northlight production as well as the current incarnation.
Date in print: Thurs., Feb. 14, 2002

The Last Five Years