Shining in relationship musical
With no budget to speak of, two young artists, with some help, have pulled together a show that’s a must-see.
MUSICAL theatre might be one of the most popular genres on the local entertainment scene, but that doesn’t make it easier for two of our brightest young stars to get their own show off the ground. The Last Five Years opens with previews on Friday and runs until April 22 at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Studio Theatre.
But everything they have done puts their endeavour on the right course. Niall Griffin was first tickled by the musicals of Jason Robert Brown and when he listened to the music of The Last Five Years, he knew it was something he would like to stage. He immediately contacted his buddy Talia Kodesh whom he had met on Beauty and the Beast.
Written by Tony Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown, the unconventional structure of The Last Five Years consists of Cathy, a vivacious struggling actress, telling her story backwards while Jamie, a hotshot up-and-coming novelist, tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meet once, at their wedding in the middle of the show. It’s a relationship musical, explain the two participants. Naledi nomination for her lead in Beauty and the Beast and currently teaches but also performs whenever she has the opportunity.
Their entrepreneurial spirit serves these two artists well in a dogeat-dog world. They have to work hard at establishing their careers and can’t simply sit around and wait for managements to call.
Shmukler was an easy sell because she loves the work and that’s how she picks her directing projects.
“It’s very tough work, so you have to love it,” she says.
All of them love the unconventionality of The Last Five Years as well as the intimacy, unforgiving as it may be, of the tiny Studio at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre.
Even if they have very little budget to speak of, the project was important enough to pull together.
“We had to make it happen,” says Griffin as all of them wax lyrically about the music in the show.
This is far removed from franchise musicals, which is where they learnt their craft, but here they get a chance to explore the nuances and their own interpretations – not always an option in one of the big productions so tightlty managed.
Both performers had qualms about their suitability for these particular characters but they’re excited about the process and the eventual performance.
The show has been produced at almost every major regional theatre in the US, and has been seen in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, the UK, and now it is our turn. It’s a must for musical fans and promises to be something completely different – in the hands of four quality professionals.
Niall Griffin and Talia Kodesh in The Last Five Years, directed by Gina Shmukler and Johan Lingenfelder.