On Friday, June 22nd, I saw Jason Robert Brown’s poignant masterpiece, The Last Five Years at the Complex Theatre, as apart of the 2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival. This production starred Aly French and Nate Aylworth as Cathy Hyatt and Jamie Wellerstein, the show’s struggling couple. This has to be one of my favorite pieces of musical theatre and I came into this show knowing every word to every song and memorized every comedic beat and dramatic moment off the CD. I thought I knew every thing there was to know about this story, but I was taken off guard by the originality of this production. The use of the space and the actors in between each other’s songs was a treat to watch. Nate Aylworth’s voice shined in JRB’s beautiful score, his infectious smile showed Jamie’s love of life but it was Aly French who really stole the show for me. Her focus in this character was beautiful and I couldn’t stop watching her to see what new hilarious thing she was going to do next. Her songs “Summer in Ohio” and “I Can Do Better Than That” were side splitting due to her precise comedic timing and her arsenal of faces. Her transformation from the “end” of the show as a shell of a woman in love “Still Hurting” to the “beginning” as a woman who’s heart is completely open and hopeful for a better life “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” was heartbreaking. Although the technical aspect was lacking and the full sound of the score was decreased to just a solo piano, this heart-aching and emotion-punching show still did it’s job!
Taylor Wesselman is the 2012 Production Intern. He enjoys writing musicals in the shower, long walks at Disneyland and his favorite vegetable is pizza. When not interning, he spends his time trying to find his shadow.