Hand on heart I had never heard the name Rob Mills, I’d not watched him on Australian Idol, or delighted over his famous conquests, I am not a recluse, I’m just English.
So when a friend had mentioned Mills’ resume as we entered The Seymour Centre my stomach dropped, there’s nothing more frustrating than watching D-Lister’s sabotage great musical productions for one more feeble attempt at fame.
I was dubious to begin with; productions of The Last Five Years don’t usually bode well with Jason Robert Brown’s hardcore fan base unless every reproduction of the production is identical to the original cast and recording, ‘Poor Rob Mills’ I thought, ‘What a hopeless way to end a career, the Louis XVI to the JRB fan base revolt’.
Jason Robert Brown, composer and lyricist of The Last Five Years presents the life of a relationship in one act. Performed only through song Jamie (Rob Mills) and Cathy (Marika Aubrey) sing of the rise and fall of their relationship.
Cathy begins the musical with the number ‘Still Hurting’, clutching a letter and a wedding ring she begins at the end of the relationship to work backwards throughout the performance until the number ‘Goodbye Until Tomorrow’, which sees the character after just meeting Jamie. Parallel to Cathy’s story is her other half Jamie who performs chronologically, to meet in the middle of the relationship where the couple duet for the only time.
The numbers in The Last Five Years are addictive from the moment they’re bellowed out from the stage, and I’ve only experienced that once before with a West-End big scale production, why is this musical only ever performed in small theatres to even smaller crowds?
Marika Aubrey’s performance of Cathy would satisfy even a diehard JRB fan. Her vocals were strong but controlled, sassy but spotlessly pure. She had the audience in fits of laughter during the number ‘Climbing Uphill’, close to tears in ‘Still Hurting’ and uncomfortably squashed between the two emotions during ‘I’m a Part of That’.
And as much as it pains me to say this, there was nothing D-List about Rob Mills’ performance of Jamie. Pushing out thoughts of conquests and reality television, Mills displayed signs of a true musical theatre performer. He was believable and enjoyable in his role, his voice trained, absorbing rich tones of the original cast member Norbert Leo Butz. He might have, once or twice hit a few bum notes leaving me to shake reality star reject thoughts out of my head, but he was good, more than good, I’m sure this is just the beginning for him in the world of musical theatre.
James Robert Brown has composed something quite ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, instrumentals that are uplifting and haunting at the same time. He has captured the movement of life in a relationship; he entertains the ghosts of a break-up.
The Last Five Years is a dream you wake with in the morning, pushing your eyes closed to try to relive it again, if you can. A relationship that heard the murmurs of love but ended too soon.
Stories Like These presents
The Last Five Years
by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Luke Rogers
Venue: Seymour Centre
Dates: 13 – 30 July, 2011
Times: Wed – Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Tue 6:30pm
Tickets: Full $27 | Conc $23
Bookings: 02 9114 1555