Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS at Broadway Rose

THE LAST FIVE years is available for streaming through May 16.

Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS at Broadway Rose

Oh, to be young and in love! Or, maybe not. As I watched Broadway Rose's streaming production of THE LAST FIVE YEARS, starring Kailey Rhodes and Jeff Rosick, I was aware of how much my impression of this musical has changed since I first encountered it.

The show is about the relationship between Cathy and Jamie, two twentysomething artists who, over the course of five years, meet, get married, and separate. When I first heard the soundtrack, I was also a twentysomething and was easily moved to tears by the dissolution of what seemed like a beautiful relationship. Now, as a wizened fortysomething, I can see that Cathy and Jamie never had a chance. In this production directed by Sharon Maroney, I sense that Cathy and Jamie know it too.

What makes THE LAST FIVE YEARS unique is its construction. Cathy moves backward in time, from the end of the relationship to the first date, while Jamie starts at the first date and moves forward. Their timelines meet only once, on their wedding day (though Maroney has made the controversial decision to have the characters occasionally appear in each other's scenes, albeit in shadow). They take turns singing about significant moments in their lives and relationship, often giving us the chance to see the events from each characters' perspective.

The musical was inspired by writer, composer, and lyricist Jason Robert Brown's failed first marriage, and even writing about himself, Brown struggled to make Jamie a sympathetic character. Having found success with his writing way too young, when Jamie looks around he sees nothing but himself. His first song, "Shiksa Goddess," is superficially about why he has fallen in love with Cathy, but in reality it's not about her at all. Later, when Cathy needs encouragement about both their relationship and their acting career, the best Jamie can come up with is that he believes in her -- a nice sentiment except that it once again positions Cathy as having worth only as it relates to him.

For her part, Cathy has to figure out what she wants and what she can live with. At times, she seems resigned to a life of riding in Jamie's sidecar, whereas at others, she's an ambitious budding actor, ready to take NYC by storm (at home, I didn't have to worry about my fellow audience members being disturbed by my frequent pleas for her to leave the bum!).

Rhodes has the depth and dexterity to communicate multiple conflicting emotions at the same time, and I often felt like I was witnessing a private moment of peak identity crisis. On the charming narcissist front, Rosick has the narcissism down pat though is perhaps a bit short on the charm. Both are able to handle Brown's challenging music skillfully, bringing out the quirkiness as well as the spectrum of emotions from joy to pain to deep ambivalence.

The extra challenges of producing musicals right now have resulted in not many theatres even trying. While they're certainly no substitute for live performance, Broadway Rose's productions have consistently been among the best virtual theatre options available. If you haven't yet checked one out, don't miss your opportunity.

THE LAST FIVE years is available for rent through May 16. More details and tickets here:

Photo credit: Mark Daniels

select text from bway_bww.ros2022 inner join bway_bww.ros2022schedule on bway_bww.ros2022.ticketid = bway_bww.ros2022schedule.ticketid where startdate <= {ts '2022-07-07 00:00:00'} and enddate => {ts '2022-07-07 00:00:00'} and typer in ('Desktop','Responsive')and slotname <= 1 order by slotname, rand() limit 0,1 test

Related Articles View More Portland Stories

From This Author - Krista Garver

Krista runs a content marketing business in Portland, Oregon. She fell in love with musicals at age 5, when her parents took her to see a university production of The Music Man. Krista attends as much... (read more about this author)

Review: THE CHERRY ORCHARD at Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble
July 1, 2022

Funny, poignant, weird – Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble’s new take on THE CHERRY ORCHARD, translated by Štĕpán Šimek, is a vehicle to showcase what both Chekhov and PETE do best.

Review: KISSING THE WITCH at Corrib Theatre
June 21, 2022

Corrib’s production, directed by Tracy Cameron Francis, uses movement and visual effects to bring the magical, mystical nature of fairy tales to the forefront, while also reinforcing that these are real people dealing with real issues.

Review: RENT at Portland Center Stage
June 16, 2022

Director Chip Miller delivers a vibrant and touching production of musical theatre's most iconic shows.

BWW Review: BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE at Portland Playhouse
May 20, 2022

Kirsten Childs’ 2016 musical, now running at Portland Playhouse, offers a new take on American folklore, featuring a new tall tale hero: Bella Patterson, “a woman of mythic proportions and heroic appeal.”

BWW Review: APPROPRIATE at Profile Theatre
May 16, 2022

APPROPRIATE is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ genre-upending take on the great American family drama.