Wednesday, 26 February 2014

THE LAST 5 YEARS Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside
Written by Jason Robert-Brown
Directed by Martin Berry

Having seen this play with music (as opposed to a musical) before, I was already in love with the music and the play itself. Having had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Matt Ronchetti and the gorgeous Roxanne Douro prior to the show, I couldn't wait to see the show, and I was not disappointed.

Jason Robert-Brown is one of the most under rated yet talented writers and composers of the modern theatre, in my opinion, and while his songs are complex from a singers point of view they are an absolute joy for a musical theatre fan to listen to.

"The Last 5 Years" tells the story of Jamie Wellerstein and Cathy Hiatt, two Americans who fall in love, marry and then break up but is told from the viewpoint of Jamie and Cathy but from the start of the relationship in Jamie's case and from the break up backwards with Cathy.

Where the two overlap, or come together in the middle, Jamie proposes to Cathy, and is an incredibly tender piece especially with the song "The Next 10 Minutes" being performed as a duet.

Matt and Roxanne are so wonderfully believable as a couple and they make you feel empathy for Roxanne and her anger and tears with the opening song, "Still Hurting", what an amazing song! And in a strange way, from  a bloke's point of view, you do actually feel the regret Jamie shows after his one night stand when the marriage is breaking down in "Nobody Needs To Know".

Vocal wise Matt and Roxanne are absolutely spot on and one of those wonderfully comfortable pairings and I noted that Roxanne sounds like a young Barbara Streisand, both actors so easy on the ear, as well as the eye.

Providing the music was pianist and musical director Dan Turek, Rachel Whalley (violin) and Laura Elliott (cello), a beautiful compliment to Roxanne and Matt's vocals.

And finally, the director with the golden touch, Martin Berry. That man is a magician where great theatre is involved and he has waved his wand yet again. I've never seen a bad show at Lakeside and Martin has been behind so many of the shows that I've had the pleasure of seeing.

Such a shame that "The Last 5 Years" was only on for three nights because ,even on their last night on Wednesday, the auditorium was almost full and I really hope that Martin, Roxanne and Matt return to Lakeside to do this all over again... and soon!

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