After my recent move across the country from Berlin to Wiesbaden I was kind of a musical-orphan.
Not that Berlin is an El Dorado for musical folks. But….well….Wiesbaden. 😉
Anyway when my long time internet friend Niklas from Theaterdistrikt texted me about 2 weeks ago if I wanted to try and get a ticket for the opening of “The Last 5 Years” produced by The Musical Season I was all like: “Hell yeah!”
Not only was I really in the mood for meeting new people (Niklas! Hey!) in real life, but in case you haven’t noticed: I’m a really big fan of anything Jason Robert Brown. From Parade to Bridges including The Trumpet of the Swan, you name it, I love it. Especially The Last 5 Years is one of my all time favourites. This show has been in my life for more than 8 years now and I habe always loved it. Mostly for the concept, but also for the lyrics, for the way the lyrics and the music play with each other and for the way Cathy has the hard job of being not too whine-y in the beginning or the whole evening will be a desaster. I own 4 different recordings of this show (original off-broadway, German, revival off-broadway, movie) and I’ve seen the movie a couple of times (THE SCHMUEL SONG, everybody!).
Almost 5 years ago on this day (Timehop just reminded me of that) I saw a production of it in Chemnitz and now Frankfurt was my second live experience. And while this Frankfurt production was not flawless in every department I loved every second of it. And here’s why:
- the stage: black box, two benches. The musicians spread out over all three wall of the stage. From the walls and the ceiling hanging all kinds of things that make up our lives, our memories, our relationships. Keeping it simple, keeping in real – and a black box can mean the world.
- the staging: again. keepin’ it simple. There were a couple of dance moves (The Next Ten Minutes…mostly because – I believe – dancing is easier to ‘rewind’ for the second half of the song than normal movement), but it was best without. After all The Last 5 Years is about people. And about all of the things that can go wrong between them. Yes, there ARE costum-changes, a lot of them, but in these costumes you can always see the characters growing older or younger.
- the actors: while the impression these two leave is influenced by the biggest flaw of the opening night (memorizing the lyrics….), Hannah Grover and Andy Coxon manage to take us along on the journey their characters go on. Being alone on stage predenting to have a partner is one of the harder parts of this show and while you deeply understand both sides of the story. Both manage super well with the music (luckily music and lyrics can be two very different things) and small theatres have this amazing things where you sometimes can feel their singing in addition to just hearing it.
- the idea: The Musical Season went out to produce smaller scale shows in their original (English) language, bringing Off-Broadway or the West End equal of that to Frankfurt, staging high quality theatre without the big bucks in mind or in the background. Starting with enthusiasm and love for theatre and in a way…sharing their love with us. While we have a well developed off-Scene for most theatrical genres Musical is missing an off-vibe for the most part. This is why the idea behind The Musical Season is very, very welcome to my theatre-world. 😉
It would be amazing to see which show they (HOPEFULLY) conquer next, I most definitely have suggestions. Plus: Seeing this has fueled my own Musical theatre mojo again. Now I only have to find the time and the brain space to sit down and work on some stuff. (YAY)
To those who are still on the fence about whether they should go or not: I was given a free ticket because I work in theatre business. But I was so moved and amazed by the performance and the initiave I simple HAD to donate the money I would gladly have spent on a Steuerkarte. And this, my friends, is the highest thing you could achieve in my books.