The Last Five Years Preview
May 16-May 24, 2008
No Strings Theatre Company presents "The Last Five Years" opening Friday, May 16 and running through Sunday, May 25, with 10 performances at the Black Box Theatre, 430 No Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. "The Last Five Years" is directed by Tom Smith and stars Carrie Oliver and Cade Surface. Trae Blanco is the Musical Director. Tony-winner Jason Robert Brown took home Drama Desk Awards for both Best Music and Best Lyrics for this piece. His musical revue, "Songs For a New World," was presented by No Strings Theatre Company in 2006, which also starred Carrie Oliver.
The musical chronicles a young couple's romance in a unique way: her story starts at the end of their relationship; his begins on the day they met. Cathy Hiatt is a struggling actress and the highs and lows of her relationship with Jamie Wellerstein, an up-and-coming novelist, is the core of the story. It is an intensely personal look at a relationship from both people's perspective.
Carrie Oliver received her Masters of Music in Musical Theatre Performance from Arizona State University and currently teaches private voice lessons with Las Cruces High School. Besides performing, she has served as music director for several shows in Arizona as well as Las Cruces which include "Seussical the Musical" and "Christmas Carol" with ASTC. She been seen at the UTEP Dinner Theatre in "A Grand Night for Singing," as well as "Viva, El Paso!" "VeggieTales Live", "Carousel," The Secret Garden," "Into the Woods," NSTC's "Songs for a New World," LCCT's "I Love, You're Perfect, Now Change," and originating the role of The Quiltmaker in "The Quiltmaker's Gift" with Phoenix Theatre Cookie Company.
Cade Surface is a Visiting Artist from The University of Michigan. While at UM, Cade has been a member of the University of Michigan Chamber Singers and The University of Michigan Chorale for two years. He performed with the Flint Symphony Orchestra and served on the Arts Advisory board at the Flint Institute of Music. Cade has received State Championships in solo and ensemble work nine times since 2003. In Michigan, he performed in Brecht's "Mother Courage and her Children," "Guys and Dolls," and "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." He received a Best Thespian Award from the Michigan Thespian Society for his protrayal of C.C. Showers in "The Diviners" in 2006.
Director Tom Smith has recently directed or performed in The Complete History of Las Cruces (Abridged), Glamtastic, The Complete History of America (Abridged), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Ballerina, A Child's Christmas in Wales, Psycho Beach Party and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (original and revival). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Music Director Trae Blanco is a graduate of NMSU with a Bachelors of Music in Instrumental Education. Prior shows include "Into The Woods," "Seussical the Musical," "Hansel and Gretel," and Jason Robert Brown's "Songs for a New World." The musicians are Trae Blanco, Jared Colins, Eric Maese, Robert Randall and Maya Weisinger. Peter Herman is Scenic and Lighting Designer, Cindy Pitts is Stage Manager, Danny Wade is Light Board Operator and Ceil Herman is Producer.
'The Last Five Years' features a variety of Las Cruces talent
Time twists in this witty romantic musical
- By Joel Courtney , Las Cruces Bulletin
"The Last Five Years," the modern musical opened by No Strings Theatre Company last weekend, combines a witty romanticism of an early relationship and the desperate death rattle of a failing marriage.
Although the two may seem irreconcilable, the twist from writer/composer Jason Robert Brown shows the journey of Cathy (Carrie Oliver) and Jamie (Cade Surface) from two perspectives. Jamie tells the story from the couple's first date, while Cathy begins from the point where Jamie walks out of the marriage.
More akin to one-man shows, cast members of "The Last Five Years" act out their perspectives alone. The only point the two cross paths is on the day of their wedding before heading along through the tale.
Within the first scene, or if you're reading this review, you know how their entire five years together ends, but the musical keeps you into the story through terrific lyrics and the universal quality of the characters. Both Cathy and Jamie have aspects of themselves anyone could relate to, allowing the audience to meet them on a very real level.
Jamie is an aspiring novelist, just making his debut in the publishing world with his new hit book. Cathy is encouraged to follow her dreams of acting, but is not the sensation her husband is, while the two careers begin to pull the lovers apart.
Brown's music covers a wide variety of genres, and the dichotomy of the stories provides a good balance in mood, keeping you from getting to contented by the blossoming love or too jaded by the painful fading of it.
Oliver, who is no stranger to the stage in Las Cruces, is ideal for the role as Cathy. In addition a diverse musical background, she was in NSTC's performance of Brown's "Songs for a New World" in 2006. Oliver has a definite love for Brown's music, and it shows through her performance, and her smooth voice makes each song a delight.
Surface, is only a visiting artist, but has a long musical and theatrical résumé from his home state of Michigan. He shows an even wider range, jumping from wildly energetic to cold and unreachable through the story.
Surface has great fun with his role, and had I not been told by NSTC producer Ceil Herman that he only took up the project two weeks prior to the opening, there is no way I would have believed it.
Perhaps he just melded into the role of up-and-comer Jamie, or maybe he feeds off Oliver's love and dedication to the show, but the two make a perfect match on stage for this piece.
Although "The Last Five Years" could surely have been performed to a recording, what makes the NTSC production so much more enjoyable is the live orchestra accompanying the actors' voices.
Composed of Aaron Barbara on cello, Trae Blanco on guitar, Jared Colins on bass, Eric Maese on Violin, Robert Randall on piano and Maya Weisinger on violin, this performance isn't just a night at the theater, it's an intimate musical experience composed solely from local talent.
So, for those who want a taste of good acting or good music, the limited showing of "The Last Five Years" is a great deal with both.
No seating plan has been posted.