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BWW Blog: The Last Five Years... Reversed?

So, hear me out. Let’s bring The Last Five Years back to Broadway - with a twist!

BWW Blog: The Last Five Years... Reversed?

The Last Five Years has been one of my favorite musicals/movie-musicals for a while now. I think it is criminally underrated amongst Broadway lovers, a heartbreaking tale that brings reality to the stage. It follows the 5 year relationship of Jamie Wellerstein, a striving author with a relentless attitude, and Cathy Hiatt, a determined actress with a big heart. Just from those descriptions you can assume there are going to be some trials in this relationship, their heads sometimes colliding and passions sometimes turning too competitive. If you haven't seen this show, Jamie is viewed as the villain. He is determined to a fault, getting too big of a head at times and (without meaning to, most of the time) overshadowing Cathy. His ego gets the best of him, as he flaunts around New York with a new persona and set of eyes for every woman in the city. The show features both Jamie and Cathy's points of view throughout their 5 years of being together, eventually meeting in the middle. It concludes with Jamie writing Cathy a letter, closing the bank account and leaving her all by herself. Now, while cheating is inexcusable, we cannot let Cathy go blameless here. Cathy promises in "A Part of That" that she'll stick by Jamie throughout his career, for all of his wins and losses. She eventually has enough of this daunting success, lashing out at him in jealousy and repressed anger. Neither of the two are perfect here, they both made promises that neither of them were brave enough to keep. Despite this, it makes for an eye-opening and heartbreaking show that perfectly depicts the "not-so happy" ending that so many of us hate and fear with a passion. But, despite this, it's an ending that we need to see on our screens and stages in an attempt to remind us that the world and its people sometimes don't live happily ever after.

So, hear me out. Let's bring The Last Five Years back to Broadway - with a twist! Let's take the roles of Jamie and Cathy, and swap them. "How would that work?", you may ask. Well, it would work the exact same. But, instead of Cathy being the timid partner and Jamie being the overbearing one, it's the opposite. Picture Cathy, now the successful and thriving author, having men throw themselves at her and eventually losing Jamie's trust. Jamie is overshadowed, he's desperate for Cathy's attention and stops supporting her in the way he once did.

Now, I have a few questions for you. How would the story change? It wouldn't. The moral of the story stays the same. We all know cheating is inexcusable, as I said before, but what if we took that out of the equation. Who's the villain now? Is it still Jamie? Would he be at fault because he was so jealous of Cathy's success that he just gave up? Would Cathy be seen as "better" than Jamie because he had given up far before she had?

The answers to these questions depend on your perspective, your view of the story. Who's the villain to you? Of course, in the original story, Jamie is the first to cross the line. But, I counter that both of them were in the wrong. Neither of them are blameless here. Men are not the only gender that can be successful, and women are not the only gender that can feel left out of a narrative. The possible return of The Last Five Years with role reversals would prove this to be true, I believe this show needs to go back to Broadway and explore this new perspective, it might even just change the story.


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