A friend and I went and saw the recent Off-Broadway revival of The Last 5 Years last week and I am still having all sorts of feelings days and days after the fact.

 

 

 

This was the first time I had ever seen the show before (I guess I should say “live” before… I have seen bootlegs of the Norbert Leo Butz/Sherie Rene Scott version from Chicago), but I was very familiar with its format and all the songs. I guess I thought I would be okay seeing the show since I knew what to expect. I wasn’t expecting to still be reeling a week later; angry at a fictional character for breaking my very real heart.

 

 

 

For those of you who have never heard of the show or have never seen the show, The Last 5 Years tells the story of Jamie and Kathy and their five year relationship. The catch is, the show is told from his point of view from the beginning to the end of their relationship and from her point of view from the end to the beginning of their relationship.

 

 

 

A two-person show, each character sings every other song with the exception three songs. Their only proper duet, “The Next Ten Minutes” is their engagement/wedding song – where their stories meet in the middle for one, blissfully happy and romantic number – only to be reminded moments later that he’s going to sing about the end of their relationship juxtaposed against her being super happy about falling in love. The finale, “Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You,” is an emotional punch to your heart because you’re watching her sing about how she can’t wait to see him again while he’s leaving his wedding ring on a table and walking out the door.

 

 

 

I know the songs of this show inside and out, but somehow seeing them  performed in a row on stage with actors putting themselves completely into those characters… I lost is couple times. I’m not a crier at many things, but tears fell during both “The Next Ten Minutes” and “Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You.” I cried during “The Next Ten Minutes” because the lyrics to that song are just so simple and honest. He’s asking her to share her life with him and she sings about wanting to be his wife and having his kids. And for a fraction of a second, you think they’re going to make it, only to remember that he leaves her in a few more songs.

 

 

 

And then the finale. Oh, that finale. I was just so… angry. I won’t spoil for you why he leaves, but as a woman, I’m on Kathy’s side of this scenario. That’s not to say I don’t fully disagree with some of the arguments that Jamie makes, but I walked out of that show firmly thinking that Jamie was a coward and how his actions were inexcusable.

 

 

 

It really makes you think, though… what if their roles were reversed? What if she was the one in the relationship with a successful career? What if she was the one to leave? What if it was told from the end of their story from his point of view as opposed to hers?

 

 

 

I am beyond grateful I got a chance to see this production. Though it was honestly one of the most gut-wrenching and painful (to the emotions) shows I’ve ever seen in my entire life, it was something I needed to witness firsthand. Jason Robert Brown’s lyrics are brilliant. Though my favorite song from the show (“I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You”) was actually replaced (with “Shiksa Goddess”) after the  Chicago show, I get why that was done. ICBILWSLY showed Jamie as too vulnerable of a character (the line “I don’t know what I’m doing, but come in and ruin me” will forever be my favorite line from any song of all time), while SG shows him to be more selfish (albeit in a joking, charming manner that we all fall for, but you know eventually that’ll turn sour…).

 

 

 

The Last 5 Years has been extended at the Second Stage Theatre in NYC through May 18th and I highly recommend it for people who are actively looking to feel emotionally conflicted.

Advertisements