Love, devotion and deception with the accompaniment of powerful music and strong acting in the two-person musical titled “The Last Five Years” brought students, faculty and other theatergoers to a standing ovation April 21, 22 and 23 in Founders Auditorium.
A calm and intimate restaurant setting appeared as the audience entered the auditorium from the back entrance. Tables were arranged on the stage by candlelight with a projection screen in front and the musicians stationed to the left.
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The original location for the musical was at a local restaurant, but the plans fell through at the last minute. In the week before the premier, the auditorium’s stage was transformed into the restaurant setting that Farthing and Stephenson had in mind.
“The Last Five Years,” by Jason Robert Brown and directed by Steven Kent, took the audience into the lives of a couple in the process of separating but told from a different perspective. Instead of the spouses speaking to each other, they spoke to the audience, since they were traveling in different time spans.
“Carol found it,” said Scott Farthing, associate professor of music. “Last year she wanted to find a two-person musical. We went through a couple of scenes and she said this one is the one. We loved it. ”
Jamie, played by Farthing, was traveling from the year they met to the year they separated. Cathy, played by Carol Stephenson, started with the present and went back to the year she met Jamie. The two met briefly in the middle during their wedding.
“It was very moving, I am a big fan of this musical,” said Santa Monica resident Emily Monica. “I’ve never seen it live and I think they did a good job.”
The musicians included musical director Reed Gratz on piano, Misa Kitagawa on violin, Bob Scarano on guitar and Robbie Davis on bass.
The music ranged in tone and set the pace of the play as well as the progression and regression of time.
“I really appreciated the musicians, hearing them backing them (the cast) up,” Spalding said. “I thought it was really nice.”
The projection screen was used to allow the audience to follow the spouses as they embarked on a rollercoaster of emotion throughout their relationship.
“I thought it was great,” said La Verne resident Doris Steahly. “I thought the singing and presentation was wonderful. I enjoyed it very much.”
Some of the highlight songs performed by Farthing and Stephenson were “Nobody Needs to Know,” “The Schmugel Song” and “Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You.”
Overall perception of the performance was positive. People leaving the auditorium met with the cast members as they ascended the steps.
Some enjoyed the premise of the one spouse going forward in time, while the other spouse went backwards in time and both intersecting at the wedding.
Andres Rivera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.