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Jason Robert Brown, Norbert Leo Butz & More Join THE LAST FIVE YEARS Reunion Presented by Northlight Theatre

The free, special online event will premiere on YouTube on Sunday, May 23, 2021 from 6:30-7:30 Central. 

Jason Robert Brown, Norbert Leo Butz & More Join THE LAST FIVE YEARS Reunion Presented by Northlight Theatre

Northlight Theatre will present a special 20th Anniversary reunion event for Northlight Theatre's world premiere of The Last Five Years. The event features performances and conversation with BJ Jones, playwright Jason Robert Brown, director Daisy Prince, and original cast members Norbert Leo Butz and Lauren Kennedy.

The free, special online event will premiere on YouTube on Sunday, May 23, 2021 from 6:30-7:30 Central. The Northlight YouTube channel is:

On May 23, 2001, a brand-new musical opened at Northlight Theatre, changing the face of musical theater and the lives and careers of its creators and stars. Twenty years later, the original team reunites to talk about the landmark world premiere production, featuring never-before-told stories and two new performances of the musical's hit songs.

"In 1999 while putting up our production of Dinah Was, I asked our then music director Jason Robert Brown if he had a small, vest-pocket musical he'd like to work on outside of New York. What he suggested would become The Last Five Years. It is an honor to have presented Jason's early work, and it was, in many ways, the template for all of our new work that followed," comments BJ Jones. "By building on relationships and artistic merit, our Interplay New Play Development Program has given us opportunities to present so many of America's significant playwrights to our audience, and to contribute to the national theatrical canon. The Sullivan Family Foundation has supported our new work development since 2005, and we are profoundly grateful for their support."

The Last Five Years was first presented by Northlight Theatre (BJ Jones, artistic director, Richard Friedman, executive director) at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie, Illinois, on May 23, 2001. Set and costumes were by Beowulf Boritt, lighting by Christine Binder, sound by Rob Milburn and Ray Nardelli, casting by Mark Simon, musical direction by Thomas Murray, and direction by Daisy Prince. The stage manager was Patty Lyons. The cast was Norbert Leo Butz (Jamie) and Lauren Kennedy (Cathy).

Historically, Northlight Theatre has been dedicated to the development of new works, including the world premiere of The Last Five Years. Since 2006, new plays have been developed under the umbrella of Northlight's Interplay program, which has invested in provocative new works by American and international playwrights, providing customized support in the critical stages of early play development.

Through Interplay, Northlight seeks to serve the specific needs of the play and can provide playwright commissions, workshops with actors, and private or public readings. The public reading series is an instrumental part of the Interplay program, providing audiences the opportunity to participate in a part of the evolutionary process from initial idea to full theatrical production, including first-hand insight from the playwright. Also through the reading series, the playwright has the opportunity to hear audience response that is integral to shaping the play for full production.

To date, Interplay has provided support for 43 new plays, 33 of which have gone on to full productions - some at Northlight and others around the country, including The Goodman Theatre, the Humana Festival, TheatreWorks, and off-Broadway. Four plays have continued on to acclaim at Ireland's famed Galway International Arts Festival.

That staggering success rate has established Interplay as a valuable incubator for new work in the American theatre, and has helped cement Northlight's national reputation as an important contributor to the American theatrical canon. Interplay readings continued in an online format throughout the 2020-2021 pandemic.

Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.

Founded in 1974, the organization has mounted over 220 productions, including more than 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 208 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 36 Awards, as well as ten Edgerton Foundation for New Play Awards. As one of the area's premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.

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