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‘The Last 5 Years’ is A Wonderful Display of Talent

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Time heals no wounds for estranged lovers Cathy Hiatt and Jaime Wellerstein in the play “The Last Five Years,” directed for the Emmanuel College stage by Alexa Albanese. Hiatt and Wellerstein, brought to life by students Temma Beaudreau and Jordan Lindley respectively, live in a universe plighted by what can only be described as Benjamin Button syndrome. The manner of storytelling in this play intends to disrupt any preconceived notions that it could end happily. In fact, the most anachronistic event that takes place is the only scene of the first act where Cathy and Jaime are together, exchanging vows on their wedding day. In a backwards narrative, up is down and the height of joy and fulfillment is actually veiled despair.

Music direction (and for that matter, set design) in “The Last Five Years” was sparing but effective and well balanced with each scene, leaving the actors to set the mood. Cathy’s retrograde from prospect barren misanthrope to bright eyed, aspiring actress opposite the swelling of Jaime’s bereaved personal breakdown was actually quite redeeming for her character. Our last moment with an ecstatic Cathy wishing for the future she could share with a new man was sincerely bittersweet. Rising to the task, Emmanuel Freshman Temma Beaudreau performed admirably. Some of the musical numbers especially helped Beaudreau shed any amateurism and illustrate her character’s complexities, like “A Summer in Ohio” which pokes fun at Cathy’s desires. (A gay midget and a snake named Wayne that belonged to her friend the stripper were highlights of a reminiscence of theater life in Ohio.) Both she and Mr. Lindley sang beautifully and were expertly composed, although Jordan’s vocal range was a bit less baritone than he probably would have liked at times. Nevertheless, he hit impressive notes even when most animated, wildly providing his own account of an ill-fated romance ultimately beset by Jaime and Cathy’s creative struggles.

In my review of last semester’s production of “Sweet Charity,” Lindley played an unassuming and mature character who had nearly given up on love until he became trapped in an elevator with a woman he would soon prepare to marry. His character, Oscar, was deeply troubling because it was quite likely he would never save himself from impulse and fear. Lindley has managed well again with another tragically flawed character, Jaime, who only wants the world.

An issue on Sunday night was brought to the attention of this patron of the arts at Emmanuel via an overheard conversation between two people sitting next to me: “Why no risers?” Albanese’s show did not suffer terribly because of the college’s auditorium design choices, but in a mostly packed house it was made slightly difficult to see over other people’s heads. I don’t know if the choice to add an intermission to the production is standard for other productions of “The Last Five Years”, but I’m not sure if it was entirely necessary, especially because no refreshments were available and I’m a sucker for snackies.

All things considered, Albanese’s show was a gift, and a wonderful display of talent. 9/10

Posted by on December 12, 2014. Filed under Around Campus,Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.