Left – Luigi Lucente and Angela Harding. Photo – John E Photography
Jason Robert Brown’s semi-autobiographical piece depicting his failed marriage to his actress wife is a bittersweet romance of an all too familiar story. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl agrees to marry boy, boy becomes wildly successful while girl is stuck at home lamenting her failed dreams.
So maybe not your typical Hollywood love story, but it certainly is recognizable in real life.
Told in opposing order, Cathy (Angela Harding) begins at the end of their marriage while Jamie (Luigi Lucente) sings through the score in chronological order. With the exception of one song in the center of the performance “The Next Ten Minutes” the two characters never interact.
It is an obvious indication of the distance between the two characters who throughout the show only meet during Jamie’s proposal to Cathy, the rest of their time is spent living separate lives from each other.
It is difficult to view The Last Five Years through any other eyes than Jamie’s, or Jason Robert Brown’s to be more accurate. Clearly swayed in favour of Jamie’s character, the story revolves around the aspiring writer and his dominance of the literary world.
The character of Cathy appears to be much more of a “supporting character” than a lead in this narrative, a mere backdrop to her husband’s success. While Jamie’s character is fully fleshed out and developed, the audience never gets to see Cathy from more than a superficial level.
Luigi Lucente as Jamie however, is simply outstanding. His energy and vocal talents are spot on as he bounds around the stage, falling in and out of love and displaying the manic drive of an artist. It is impossible not to fall in love with this leading man, even as a philandering husband, Brown has written the story so the audience continues to fall on the side of Jamie. Lucente brings so much to this role and is an incredible talent.
Cathy is not allowed the same luxuries as Jamie. Contrived as more of a nagging housewife than eccentric artist, her character is left behind as Jamie’s career takes off and hers begins to fail. A beautiful musical theatre voice, Angela Harding is slightly heavy handed on the vibrato in the opening songs but finds her feet later in the piece with a clear bell-like sound.
Credit must be given to the incredible on stage band who delivered a haunting score throughout the performance that highlighted and complimented the vocals.
Directed by Jez Hunghanfoo with musical direction by Evan Englezos, The Last Five Years is a moving production of two people who probably never should have fallen in love, but did, and now have to pay the price.
Tall Trees Productions presents
The Last Five Years
by Jason Robert Brown
Director Jez Hunghanfoo
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland St, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 17 - 21 Jul 2013
Times: Wed-Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $36 – $30
Bookings: 03 9534 3388