I am pleased to share my thoughts regarding the latest Metropolis Production of The Last 5 Years that begins previews on May 15 and opens on May 18 to run through June 15. As has been my pleasure as Executive Director I always catch our main stage productions during their final dress rehearsals so I can attest to the work we are doing.
In a word, I loved this show.
It brings all that is great about live theatre and does so showcasing all of the strengths of Metropolis. Our intimate space is so perfect for this show. Given that it is an intimate glimpse into the love between the principals; Cathy a struggling actress and Jamie a rising star writer. I cannot imagine seeing this show anywhere but in a place like Metropolis.
Resident Director; Lauren Rawitz brings the performers front and center often, indeed, even into the house so that you cannot help but feel the emotions that are being portrayed through the terrific score and music of the show. Matt Edmonds, as Jamie and a familiar face at Metropolis and, Elissa Newcorn, as Cathy and making her debut here, display such incredible vocal skills and acting talent that one wonders how long before either or both are snatched up by a Producer on Broadway. They are indeed that good. And, they tell the stories of their love from the falling into to the dissolution of with pure honesty and emotion. Anyone who has lived and loved will find something in the score that will resonate with them. Kleenex is highly recommended.
Even better, the staging, again orchestrated by Lauren Rawitz, and the team lead by our Production Manager Bill Franz makes the maximum use of our space. No orchestra pit? No problem, let’s put the orchestra on stage behind the actors. This works extremely well as the musicians become part of the story as well they should since it is all music from end to end. Seeing music director Charlotte Rivard-Hoster and cellist David Richardson put themselves physically into the music tells you that the orchestra is not just doing a gig but feeling the show as much as the actors.
No wing space to store and move a variety of set pieces, no fly system or trap doors to make things magically appear? No problem. The stage is strewn with moving boxes which herald both the idea of moving in at the start of a relationship and moving out at the end. Creating an interesting space to look at with many levels and nooks and crannies to stage the various scenes in the show. Very cleverly conceived and executed by scenic designer and tech director Kaitlin Donelon.
Joe Mohammed’s lighting scheme adds emotional elements moving between subtle starlight, blazing sunrise, searing spotlights and brooding darkness that all serve as great counterpoint to the action on stage and the story as it unfolds.
I could not be more proud of the work done here. Art at its best is moving and shines a light of truth on the subject matter helping us to see things in a way we may not have otherwise. As love goes it has always been one of my favorite of the human emotions. Yet, it is also one of the most nuanced and can be felt in incredible highs while love is in bloom and incredible lows when it fails and withdraws. Author, lyricist and composer Jason Robert Brown has captured all of the shades of love in this story. Some will leave feeling blue after seeing it, others will leave feeling edified and informed, some will leave saying ‘yes, I can relate’, but no one should leave without feeling something.
There is simply too much good work going on here to do otherwise.
To all who are part of this creative effort I say…wow! What an amazing thing you have done.