Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS Soars at Core Theatre Group

Hudson Valley's Newest Theatre Group's Sophomore Show Shines

By: Feb. 23, 2024
Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS Soars at Core Theatre Group
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If you are a theatre fan, (and let’s face it since you’re reading BroadwayWorld…you are), then you have definitely seen some version of The Last Five Years years since it first premiered in 2001.  I have seen many productions, some I have loved while others I have tolerated as I listened to the original cast album in my head - wishing the leads on stage were more like Norbert Leo Butz and Sheri Renée Scott.

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of Core Theatre Group’s (Hudson Valley’s newest theatre company), production of The Last Five Years, starring Season 16 winner of the The Voice Maelyn Jarmon and Clay Singer (The Band’s Visit).  This production, directed with honesty and inventiveness by Jessica McRoberts, one of the founding members of Core Theatre Group, was a breath of fresh air.  Jarmon’s soaring vocals mixed with her aching vulnerability brought the audience right into “Still Hurting” and “See I’m Smiling” without ever making me feel like Cathy was victim, but more so a woman questioning and fighting for her relationship.  Clay Singer entered the stage with “Shiksa Goddess” with pure sincerity and excitement.  Even though I knew where the story was going, I could not help but fall in love with him.  It didn’t hurt that he also had a voice to rival any and all Jamie’s that came before and will come after. 

Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS Soars at Core Theatre Group
Clay Singer and Maelyn Jarmon

 

Jarmon’s journey from heartbreak to new love’s bliss was especially strong.  Having never watched The Voice,I was unfamiliar with Jarmon, but quickly realized the depth of her abilities.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, and created a Cathy so three dimensional that as an audience member I felt like I knew her intimately.  I found this especially impressive as this show is written to make Jamie out to be the hero and often leaves Cathy to be seen “at fault.”  Her phrasing and take on “Summer in Ohio” made me feel like I hearing things for the first time. 

Singer, at first a lovestruck pup sporting chunky white Converse and demonstrating an adorable yet naive swagger slowly transforms over the 90 minutes into a cool, successful, selfish man who clearly doesn’t have the emotional intelligence to handle the success he has rapidly achieved.   Singer handles this with such deft subtly that the audience, like Cathy, barely notices the changes until it is too late.  It was the first time I ever truly believed Jamie’s conflict during the cleverly staged “A Miracle Would Happen.”

McRoberts did a very skillful job of never making the story feel stagnant by utilizing her entire space in inventive ways, even getting to feature the beautiful violinist Christy Halligan Brown as a scene partner in “I’m a Part of That.”  The few times Cathy and Jamie connected on stage were impactful and filled the ache the audience shared for the pair.  The six-piece band was led by conductor and musical director, Paul Peglar, with excellent sound by Sam Sambataro.  Set and lighting designer Brian Dunn transformed the Drowned Lands Brewery from a large event space to an intimate theatre venue. 


The Last Five Years runs this weekend only, February 22-25, at the Drowned Lands in Warwick, NY.  Do not miss it!  For more information and tickets, visit www.coretheatregroup.com




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