Tonight, we saw the second marriage musical, The Last 5 Years, at the Pasadena Playhouse. As you may recall from Take 1, the Pasadena Playhouse is doing two two-person musicals on the subject of marriage. The first was “I Do! I Do!, and “The Last 5 Years” is the second. Whereas I Do! I Do! told the story of a traditional marriage that works, The Last 5 Years tells the story of a marriage that didn’t work. This is done with an interesting plot device: she tells the story from the breakup to the first meeting, while he tells the story from the first meeting to the breakup. She and He alternate songs, meeting only in the middle (the marriage).
The casting for The Last 5 Years was perfect. She, Cathy, was played by Misty Cotton. He, Jamie, was played by Daniel Tatar. Both were powerhouse singers and actors, and brought the house down. [I should note that we had a Misty Cotton cheering section in the row behind us–I almost thought shutterbug93 was in the audience!] As with I Do! I Do!, the show was directed by Nick Degruccio, with scenic design by Tom Buderwitz, costume design by Jean-Pierre Dorleac, lighting design by Steven Young, sound design by Frederick W. Boot, musical direction by David O, and choreography by Lee Martino. You can find some production photos for the show on this page from the playhouse’s blog.
So, the question the Playhouse asks the audience to do is to compare and contrast the two musicals. Why does Michael and Agnes have a marriage that works, whereas Jamie and Cathy have a marriage that fails? I was talking to my wife about this on the way home. Michael and Agnes (I Do! I Do!) have a traditional marriage. He works; she raises the kids. They care about each other, forget when appropriate, and are there when the other needs them. My wife calls this inter-dependency; I think cross-dependency is a better term. Jamie and Cathy, on the other hand, are independent. They both have careers, both in fields where they demand the limelight. Each wants the other to pay attention to them, at the sacrifice of their own needs. Complicating this is the interfaith aspect: my wife noted that Jewish guys often are egocentric. I don’ t know that she right. Of course, I’m the one doing the blog, so you pay attention to me :-). Anyway, both Jamie and Cathy are so focused on having the attention on them they forget the other. Add to that Jamie’s dalliances, and you have a recipe for failure.
An added plus about tonight’s show: As we were leaving, we ran into Sheldon Epps, the artistic director. We let him know how much we enjoyed both musicals. We told him we weren’t that impressed with the first two shows, but have loved the rest (he responded something like “I may not like every shirt you have”). We let him know we have been subscribers since 1986, and although there have been a few poor shows, the quality of the Playhouse overall is extremely high. It was neat meeting him.
Next up on the theatre calendar: “The Music Man” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on August 5th; Black Comedy and The Real Inspector Hound at the Rep East Playhouse in Santa Clarita on August 6; Curtains at the Ahmanson on August 26th, and Fences (starting Laurence Fishburne and Angela Basset) at the Pasadena Playhouse on Sept. 23rd. I also am thinking about tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in Orange County in early September, but that might not pan out either (it depends if Goldstar puts them up). We might see something on vacation, depending on what is in the Sacramento or S.F. Bay area on Goldstar.