THE LAST FIVE YEARS is a newer show with an enthusiastic following. It clearly delighted audience members who were familiar with the show and would have needed little prompting to sing along. Director Zach Workman was fortunate to have two strong leads and a versatile static backdrop that allowed the actors to change settings with easy fluidity. The well-known gimmick of the piece is that the five year relationship is presented from its end back to its beginning by one character, and in chronological order by the other.
Cathy (Vanessa Turchi) opens the show with the discovery of a painful break-up letter. Turchi has a sweet and powerful voice that effectively conveys the character’s emotions. She has the stronger voice, which makes sense as Cathy is a struggling stage performer. Since THE LAST FIVE YEARS is a two person musical, both Turchi and her co-star (Matt Clark) have heavy loads to bear.
In Jamie’s first appearance, he giddily sings about the wonderful girl he has just met named Cathy. Clark has the more straightforward timeline and he gets stronger as he goes. He is particularly good in the final scenes where it is clear that Jamie is suffering in the relationship and is struggling to find his footing. His role has more actual dialogue, and Clark’s strength as an actor meshes well with Turchi’s strength as a singer. Both are backed by an excellent collection of musicians that are occasionally a bit overpowering.
Storywise, there are times when the characters are not particularly likeable as each one is very much caught up in his or her own business. Both Cathy and Jamie do feel very real though, as each has high hopes when they first meet, and life threads that ultimately take them in very different directions. Anyone who looks back over the course of a relationship will find this tale particularly poignant, especially when viewed through Cathy eyes. Knowing how things end for her, it is heart-wrenching to see her travel backwards to a moment that felt so full of promise.
THE LAST FIVE YEARS runs for three weekends ending on June 11th. There are no shows running on Memorial Day weekend. Footlighters Theater, 58 Main Avenue, Berwyn, PA 19312. Tickets available online or at the door.
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