STAGE TUBE: Highlights From THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Canadian actors Tina Maddigan (Broadway's Mamma Mia!, Toronto and US Tour, Broadway's The Wedding Singer, Little Women) and Michael Torontow (Light in the Piazza, Toronto's Hairspray, Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage and US National Tour of Mamma Mia!) united for a short but fantastic run of Jason Robert Brown's musical The Last 5 Years with Theatre St.John's.
With only nine days' rehearsal and only having been introduced once in 2003, Maddigan and Torontow had their work cut out for them. But, the proof was in the peaspuddin as they say on the east coast of Canada'. Audiences were "initially hesitant," writes critic GorDon Jones of The Evening Telegram, "[and] perhaps uncertain, and faced with an unfamiliar genre of through-sung, modern operetta. But, under the spell of two powerful, versatile and intelligent actor-singers, supported by first-class musical backing...Maddigan and Torontow had the audience in the palms of their hands-thoroughly and besottedly won over."
The show deals with the relationship of a novelist, Jamie, and an aspiring actress, Cathy, and how they go from brand new romance to the pairing's demise. Told in opposing chronological order (Cathy begins the show at the end of the relationship, and Jamie at the beginning) they meet only once in the middle for their engagement and wedding.
Individually, Jones praised Maddigan, writing, "When Tina Maddigan is featured on the musical bill, best line up early to secure your place in the audience." He lauded Torontow, who had never visited Canada's east coast, calling him "a strong male actor and singer, darkly Byronic, hot-eyed."
Other reviews said, "I should have left my heart in a box at home. These two actors embraced these roles with truth and deep honesty as if they were married for The Last 5 Years." Another reported, "[during the marriage duet] ‘The Next 10 Minutes' the audience gripped their seats and held their breath. They're impressive connection and the fantastic chemistry they displayed, after such a short rehearsal period, left you wanting more. Their solos were divine but together they were golden."
The director was quoted as saying, "Tina and Michael were born to play the roles of Cathy and Jamie. I wish Jason Robert Brown had seen them cause they are a match made in heaven. I am a better director for having worked with this caliber of talent."
"These two we nothing short of BRILLIANT. They were more than believable. They gripped us from the top, sucked us in, and they left us in awe at the end."
"Our voices just work so well together," Maddigan said. "The first time we heard ourselves together we both got goose bumps, we knew it was pure magic."
"This is only the beginning for Tina and me," Michael celebrated, hinting at many more pairings for the two in the future. "I hope we might do this show again, but we have hit it off so well that we would be stupid not to perform much more together. We're like Sonny and Cher-without the relationship!"
Theatre St. John's production of The Last 5 Years was directed by Keith Pike and musically directed by Wade Tarling. It ran from June 16 to June 20.
To see more on Maddigan and Torontow Visit their websites: tinamaddigan.com and michaeltorontow.com