When The Last Five Years premiered in Chicago in 2001, Jason Robert Brown's uniquely structured musical was perceived to be so close to his failed marriage his ex-wife threatened to sue.
However it has been the achingly real portrayal of love, heartbreak and relationship dynamics which has helped build a cult following for this contemporary musical starring just two people.
The Albury Wodonga Theatre Company is presenting The Last Five Years, complete with live small orchestra, opening at 730pm today, and will run nightly until October 1 at the AWTC theatre in South Albury.
Cathy (Amy Murray) is a struggling actress who meets, falls in love with and marries up-and-coming writer Jamie (Jeremy Zuber).
“There’s some real bare emotions in the telling of their story, but there’s some hilarious moments too,” director Joseph Thomsen says.
As Jamie's star starts to rise, Cathy's career seems full of struggles, leading to numerous relationship struggles as their careers threaten to take them in different directions.
Their stories are told equally from both points of view, with the unique structure of reverse timelines; Cathy's story starts at the end of the relationship and moves back towards their first dates, while Jamie's story is told from the beginning moves chronologically forward at the same time.
Accompanying the performers is a wonderful mini orchestra, with Brett Spokes – a music teacher at Trinity Anglican College – taking control of the musical direction.
‘I can’t believe how good our players are, and that we’ve actually got them .. they are very well known and respected in the area,” Thomsen says.
“It has ben a privilege to be able to work with all of them, they are all really, really competent and professional musicians, for us we’re very lucky to have such good players who wanted to be part of the show.”
The company is experimenting with the use of technology to enhance the story-telling.
Several screens are used, as animated picture frames, during the show to provide a movable feast of animated backdrops.
“Even though it sounds a bit threadbare saying it’s a musical with two people in it, there’s a live small orchestra and hi-tech flat screens to set the mood. There’ll be a bit going on on the stage and with the band playing and singing. It’ll be interesting to see how it comes together to create the show as a whole,” he says.