Tag Archives: Jason Robert Brown

The Last Five Years (Movie, 2015)


Happy New Year. After nine months of my new job, I finally have the mental bandwidth to blog again – and what better way to start 2016 than watching musicals on the sofa?

The Last Five Years came out on limited release in early 2015, stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and is a 90 minute song cycle. It’s a small budget interpretation of Jason Robert Brown’s 2001 two person musical following the relationship of twenty something New Yorkers Jamie & Cathy.

The unique structure has confused many, but in my opinion is one of the most effective elements of the show (once you get your head around it). It takes alternate songs from each of the protagonist’s perspectives – Cathy progresses from the end of the five years to the beginning, whilst Jamie’s songs are chronological. They cross over in the middle song (the only time when they are at the same point in their narratives), and much of the connection to the storyline comes from seeing the whirlwind beginning of their romance juxtaposed with it’s gruelling decline.

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d urge anyone who loves musicals but hates sickly-sweet romcoms to give it a shot. If you do connect with this sort of thing you’ll be be swept away by the excitement and energy of the courtship, and the sadness of its end. Fantastically performed, it shows off Jason Robert Brown’s complicated score at it’s best.

I, for one, will be making a new tradition of sitting down and watching it every New Year’s day (and maybe a couple of times in between). Happy 2016 peeps.


The Last Five Years has had a very special place in my heart for the past 10 years, since discovering it during a cabaret at university. Still Hurting was such a powerful story and appealed to my 20 year old self, two years into my latest stretch of singledom, feeling all the feels and thinking that the protagonists were pretty old (23-28, ha!).

I listened to the album constantly and every word seeped into my brain. When I started singing lessons in 2010, Nobody Needs to Know was the first song  that I sang. I got my sister addicted, and dragged her along to see a production in a tiny theatre in Turnham Green in 2011. Last year, I laid in her East Village apartment and watched the movie for the first time on her iPad, slightly anxious with anticipation.

Life has changed a lot in the last 10 years – I’ve overtaken Jamie & Cathy in age, I’ve found that love that they are after and my sister is now a real Shiksa Goddess living in New York. Those cabarets reminded me of my love of musical theatre, that singing lesson led me to my wonderful choir, and the trip to Turnham Green inspired a review that became this very blog. At this contemplative time of year somehow it all seems connected to this musical.

Just like a great novel, my understanding and sympathy for each character has ebbed and flowed with my life stage. Whilst I hope that 2016 brings many new things, it’s great to go back to the old ones from time to time. The last decade with L5Y have taught me so much. Here’s to the next one.

The Last Five Years is available to buy/rent now. I watched it on Amazon Prime.

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Parade – Southwark Playhouse until 17th September

Image from guardian.co.uk

In a damp area beneath the arches of London Bridge until September 17th lurks something quite unexpected – a real theatrical treat set in smalltown Georgia.

Parade is an irresistible musical – having listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times, from the initial drumbeat of the opening song ‘The Old Red Hills of Home’ I tend to develop goosebumps in anticipation. The combination of Jason Robert Brown’s fantastic composition and Alfred Uhry’s book, based upon a true story of the murder trial of Leo Frank, it can hardly be beaten for quality and sheer immersiveness. It’s a simple formula of a gripping tale, accessorised with period detail and prejudices and expressed through a wonderful soundtrack.

This production has used promenade staging with audiences on either side of a central ‘catwalk’, plunging the viewers right into the centre of the action. The choreography is second to none, capturing the frenzy and anger of the local community in reaction to the central tragedy – the momentum generated is immense and the result visually spectacular.

The characterisation here is important, and the focus on the central relationship of Leo and his wife Lucille is not neglected – a great performance from Laura Pitt-Pulford captures this strong, frustrated and capable heroine’s struggle as her awkward husband is accused of a dreadful crime. Another outstanding performance comes from Terry Doe as Jim Conley, who captures this slippery character to perfection.

This is a great chance to catch a classic of modern musical theatre, and is a steal at the price – the Southwark Playhouse operates ‘airline-style’ pricing which means the earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket. The maximum price is £22.50. One tip would be to take along something to sit on as the seating can be slightly uncomfortable… That was really the only drawback of a truly great evening though, so well worth a visit.

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