There’s two sides to every story.
Book writer/lyricist/composer Jason Robert Brown lets a couple each tell of their journey from first meeting to the dissolution of their marriage through a unique lens in “The Last Five Years.” He begins at the beginning, sharing the story of their courtship; she starts at the end when the marriage has run its course.
Lauren Rawitz of Buffalo Grove directs this riveting two-person musical for Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
“It’s one of my favorite musicals ever,” Rawitz declared. I think that Jason Robert Brown is a genius. His lyrics and his music are so meaningful, so passionate.”
Rawitz believes that having each partner tell the story from different vantage points is highly effective because simultaneously “watching what is holding them together and what is tearing them apart is heartbreaking,” she said.
The director admitted that staging this musical offers some unique challenges. “Because I am dealing with one actor at a time, it has to be riveting,” she said.
Rawitz is confident that Matt Edmonds (Jamie) and Elissa Newcorn (Cathy) are capable of captivating an audience. “Both Elissa and Matt brought truth and vulnerability to the characters,” she said. “Both of them during the auditions made me cry.”
Buffalo Grove native Newcorn described Cathy as “an every woman. She’s an actress so she obviously has her dramatic moments but she puts passion into everything — into her relationships, her dreams and her goals. She gets hurt very easily.”
Cathy craves success but being loved is also a high priority. “She’s so happy that she’s finally found somebody that really loves her,” Newcorn said.
Jamie “is a real person,” Edmonds said. “He’s a writer so when he’s in that mood, he can be very selfish, very self-oriented but he always means the best. I think he’s a good person at heart but just makes mistakes.”
He already has a great career but “he’s hoping for this perfect life with love,” Edmonds said. “Cathy isn’t making it easy on him despite how much he loves her.”
The obstacle in their relationship is a lack of communication, both actors said. “When they’re not getting what they need from the other person, they don’t share it full out,” Newcorn noted.
“There’s also the professional thing,” Edmonds added. “He’s being very successful as a writer right out of college and she’s not finding almost any success as an actress.”
Both Edmonds and Newcorn believe that she has the bigger acting challenge in this show. “Normally, when a person goes to see a show, they get to witness the actor’s journey,” Newcorn said. “I have to get to that emotional state at the very start of the show and then un-know things.”
On the other hand, Edmonds joked, “She gets to end the show on a happy note and I have to walk away from the curtain call crying my eyes out.”
Six musicians will accompany Edmonds and Newcorn. “I see the music as another character,” Rawitz explained.
The director hopes that audiences will view this musical “not as a story about two people breaking up but more a story about two people trying to hold on.”