...at Playhouse on Park, and you should not miss this!
Directed by Kyle Fabel, and featuring exquisite performances by Carey Anderson and Jeff Scot Carey, this intimate two-person musical is a perfect fit for the POP space. Confession #1: I tend to be finicky and like old musicals (Gershwin, Kern, Rodgers and Hart) and certainly nothing post-A Chorus Line!, but, thanks to the whole artistic team, this production captivated me completely. I cared about Cathy and Jamie and what happened to them. I laughed at their youthful joy and, yes, their youthful insecurity and felt their pain when struggling with their relationship. I wanted to read the rest of his novel and see one of her summer stock performances in Ohio. Indeed, at 80 minutes without an intermission, the show left me wanting even more of these two.
I loved the minimal, but evocatively realized, set; the wonderful orchestra (two celli,** violin, guitar, and piano) under the direction of Colin Britt; and the seamless pacing from song to song...
I loved that the performers used no microphones. When the music got loud, they sang more loudly!
I didn't not like anything!
Well, okay, that's not entirely true...two things (one small, one big):
1) small: I really get bothered by musicals that don't give the audience time to applaud after a song. At the end of the very first song ("Still Hurting") I wanted to clap because Ms. Anderson was so good, but the orchestration was such that the next song/scene began before we in the audience felt we had the chance. (Confession #2: I clapped extra hard the first chance we got, after Mr. Carey's "Shiksa Goddess," hoping that she knew some of that was for her!)
2) big: Before the show something was given away about the show that I felt was utterly unnecessary to know then. I can't tell you what it was -- or else I'd give it away too. So, when you go (and notice I didn't say "if you go..." but "when you go") to The Last Five Years, hold your ears really tightly when, during the pre-show announcements, you hear Executive Director Tracy Flater say "I want to tell you something about the show..." Believe me, you'll thank me later!
Hell, when you go to POP before the show closes on Sunday, you'll thank me no matter what.
**A big shout out to the two cellists. (Confession #3: I LOVE female cellists.) True story: Several years ago now, Mikhail Baryshnikov came to Hartford with his dancers and a small string ensemble. Despite having really good seats that allowed me to appreciate the legendary ballet dancer and any number of other young ballet dancers up close, I couldn't take my eyes off the cellist! I must've matured some since then because this time I kept my focus where I should...but that doesn't mean I can't give the cellists their due.