Sunday, April 7, 2013

REVIEW: Another "Five Years"

Last night I had the opportunity to see another incarnation of Jason Robert Brown's THE LAST FIVE YEARS, this time at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Had I not just seen Second Stage's phenomenal revival in New York (read my review here), I think I would have found last night a lot more magical.

The first thing that stuck out to me when I walked into the space was the gorgeous set, designed by Daniel Conway. For such a minimalist musical, he created a complex, interesting space, that was highlighted by a stream of papers flying in an upward spiral from the desk on stage. 

Once the musical started, the show was similar to both other productions of this show I've seen. The same story, the same music, all surrounding the five year relationship between the novelist Jamie and actress Cathy. 

After the vocal powerhouse that was the performance by Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor, this production was a let down vocally. Erin Weaver, who plays Cathy, has a sort of frail voice that didn't lend itself to the strong ballads like "Still Hurting." Unfortunately her acting in the beginning of the show, where Cathy is a wreck emotionally, was bland and she didn't seem broken up by her break-up with Jamie at all. She was much stronger, at least in terms of acting, in the character songs like "Summer in Ohio" and "I Can Do Better Than That."

James Gardiner, who played Jamie, was stronger than Weaver was both vocally and in his acting. He was funny and likable, until he needed to be the villain of the story. Was he perfect? No. But what actor ever is? His rendition of "The Schmuel Song" had me cracking up the whole time, and I liked how he differentiated his performances from the canon version of the show (by Norbert Leo Butz).

Overall, this was a pretty good regional production of a great show. I wonder how I would have reacted if this was the first production of the show I saw. It definitely was worth the time though and if you can make it out to Arlington, worth the price of admission.

No comments:

Post a Comment