PCS Blog

“The Last Five Years”: Sublime for audiences. A kick in the pants for performers.

Posted by Claudie Fisher | 23 May 2014

 "I can’t think of any better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than by spending 90 exhilarating minutes with The Last Five Years"  -Bloomberg News

Merideth Kaye Clark as Cathy in The Last Five Years at PCS.

The Last Five Years certainly is exhilarating – for audiences AND the two cast members. 

Composer Jason Robert Brown once said the roles of Cathy and Jaime, “may be the two most grueling vocal parts in contemporary musical theater.” Now, that's a bold statement!

Is it really that challenging??

We decided to check  in with our own Musical Director, Rick Lewis, to see what he thought:

"The Last Five Years IS one of the more daunting vocal musical theater pieces around."

Drew Harper as Jaime in The Last Five Years at PCS.

So what makes this musical so challenging? Here's what Rick had to say:

"The score moves from heartbreaking ballad, to rock, to comedy, to more rock, to mild country to musical theater. And, they're not just songs, they are stories set to music, which creates higher vocal stakes. 

"It's completely sung through (with the exception of a few minutes of monologue/phone calls) and those songs are performed by only TWO performers. This means that almost every other song is performed by one of the two actors AND – with the emotional thrust/arc of the piece, which details a relationship from meeting to marriage to breakup (and backward, depending on the character) – the musical styles and demands for EACH song change from moment to moment. 

"Jason Robert Brown is such a wonderful musical theater writer. The musical range within each of the songs reaches higher or lower, depending on the emotional state or situation of the character. The character of Jamie sings more than two octaves during the show. The character of Cathy, through much of the show, is singing in the warmer part of her voice, and then out of nowhere is belting notes in the passaggio. There's not a lot of time for rest between songs. The emotional thrust of the piece takes the singer on a journey for which they have to be fully vocally prepared!"

But this music isn't just challenging.

It's also "breathtaking," "heartfelt" and "compelling" according to the press.

Here's what the local press has to say about The Last Five Years:

"15 sublime songs that balance heartbreak with humor ... Stars Merideth Kaye Clark and Drew Harper are equally strong as Cathy and Jamie, with beautiful voices that wring out the essence of Brown's ballads" - The Oregonian

"The audience is taken on an eclectic tour through musical styles, emotions, and life moments ... and you won't be the only one tearing up in the audience." - Portland Monthly Magazine 

Now it's your turn to decide. What do YOU think of the music?

Click on the 2013 Off-Broadway Cast Recording to get a taste of the songs.

Then come see The Last Five Years at PCS!


Don't miss the The Last Five Years at PCS! Now through June 22, 2014.


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