'The Last Five Years' in a bottle, shaken — on stage at BPA
February 26, 2009 · Updated 9:43 PM
Seattle-based Sound Theatre Company brings contemporary classic “The Last Five Years” to Bainbridge for this weekend only.
If you could save the last five years in a bottle, would you want to?
That is, in essence, what the Tony Award-winning contemporary American playwright Jason Robert Brown has done in this early-2000-era one-act musical “The Last Five Years.” He’s put five years of ups and downs in a relationship, into a bottle, shaken it up and put it on stage.
It’s been said that the play is a reflection of the playwright’s own life and relationships. In fact, it’s been reported that he had to change the lyrics to one of the songs after his former wife threatened to sue.
In an incredibly intimate, seemingly disoriented, but remarkably deft style of storytelling.
“The Last Five Years” chronicles the beginning to the end (and conversely the end to the beginning) of this five year relationship between a show business couple: a burgeoning young writer on the brink of success and a struggling actress a bit further from the brink, trying to make sense of life, love and career.
It plays at Bainbridge Performing Arts for one weekend only, tonight through March 1.
The show starts with Cathy, sitting alone in her apartment, lamenting the the end of the relationship. From there, it works its way backwards, oscillating from one point of view to the other in song, all culminating at the peak of the relationship — the wedding.
“The story is so easy to relate to, for everybody, but especially for people in the performing arts,” said Seattle-based BPA favorite Jessica Low (“Jekyll & Hyde” and “Little Shop of Horrors”) who plays Cathy, the struggling actress.
Probably 80 percent of typical theater-goers will have never heard of this show, added Somers — a Kitsap native and another BPA favorite who plays the ambitious young writer Jamie. But on the other side of that, he adds, probably 80 percent of people really involved in musical theater are enamored by it.
Somers said he was immediately struck by the sheer beauty of the show’s music, but even more captivated by Brown’s cohesively chaotic storytelling.
“When you listen to it from start to finish ... it’s so amazing the way the story is told,” he said. “It’s a very melded way of telling it. You’ll see conversations or arguments completed in different situations. The last note that she’s singing will sometimes be the first note that I’m singing. It’s very jarring.”
Low and Somers — Cathy and Jamie — are the only two players in the entire 90-minute musical. It’ll be orchestrated at BPA by a small group led by local legend Darryl Spadaccini.
It should be incredibly intimate and consummate night of theater on Kitsap’s scale.
It’s the type of theater you’d probably have to go to the city to see otherwise, being presented at BPA by the Seattle-based Sound Theatre Company, a company founded and run by another BPA favorite, director Teresa Thuman’s.
Thuman — who directed “Urinetown” and “The Secret Garden” at BPA last year — noted that Bainbridge audiences have always been “so smart and supportive” of the plays which she’s been a part of. Low and Somers agreed. They feel the community deserved this kind of contemporary, edgy, intimate, challenging and intellectual theater.
The production has been years in the making — orchestrated completely, from rehearsal to production and publication, by a handful of people, spearheaded and dreamed up by Somers, Low and Thuman.
No matter what returns might be like at the box office, it’s one of those shows which they felt had to be done. With every production, Thuman noted, you consider the pros and cons, benefits and obstacles that you foresee being involved: What’s it gonna cost? How’s it going to be scheduled? Who’s going to come see it?
“But every now and then you come across a piece like this, where its like, you know what, this is more important than all that,” Thuman said. “You get a little crazy and a little insane about it, but its like, this must happen.”
As a testament, after a year spent working in Los Angeles, making appearances on ABC’s “General Hospital” and “Night Shift,” Somers returns to the Kitsap community theater just to stage this production.
“I think that’s what theater is for,” he said. “Showing people something different and feeling something different and maybe looking at something a little differently.”
‘THE LAST FIVE YEARS’ will play this weekend only with curtains at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27, 28 and March 1 at the BPA playhouse, 200 Madison Ave on Bainbridge. A no-host cocktail bar in the lobby will precede each show. Tickets are $20, available through brownpapertickets.com. Info: www.soundtheatrecompany.org.