The Last Five Years – Musical.

Today I thought I would write something a little different. This ones all about the wonderful world that is musicals.

So first I ask you all, what’s the most recent musical you have seen?

Mine was The Last Five Years starting Anna Kendrick and and Jeremy Jordan. Now I first saw this when it came out at the cinema and now it has become my most recent ‘go to’ film when getting ready for work.

I just love it.

First of all, it’s Jason Robert Brown. Now if you don’t know who Jason Robert Brown is, you’re absolutely missing out in the world of Musical Theatre. He is responsible for such works as Songs for a new world, Parade, 13 and many more. Google it.

I dare say Jason Robert Brown is one of my favourite musical theatre composers. I find that when given the chance to sing his work I can instantly connect with the wonderful lyrics and get lost in the beautiful melodies. That’s why I was over the moon when I heard they were making the Last 5 years into a movie.

I had already listened to the off Broadway (2002) album probably over a hundred times since it was released, sung by the wonderful Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott, so I was immediately on edge to find out who was playing the roles of Cathy and Jamie when adapting the musical to film. I must say though, I have now downloaded the film soundtrack as I just adore Jeremy and Anna’s voices together. So round of applause to casting on this one, you nailed it.

In a nutshell the story goes as follows, Jamie is a rapidly rising novelist and Cathy is a struggling actress, living in NYC we see the exploration of their 5 year relationship. What’s interesting about this musical however is the form of how we see the story play out. Cathys story is told in reverse chronological order where as Jamie’s is told in chronological order. Sounds confusing huh? Well don’t worry it’s not! It is what makes the film even more captivating. Seeing one perspective against the other really does show the highs and lows at their most extremes. It’s one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve seen on screen.

Within the last five years there are 14 musical numbers. Jamie sings 5 solos Cathy sings 6 and there are 3 duets. Covering different stages of their relationships songs are used in times of trouble, relief, anger, to fast forward the story and most incredibly still hurting is to show the end of a relationship at the start of the musical. The reason I describe this as being incredible is because it is hard to connect instantly to someone upset about a relationship you haven’t watched grow, you have no concept of how their relationship has been until now, you haven’t made an attachment to the characters yet something in this songs melody and Anna’s perfect performance makes you instantly feel sorrow and you empathise with her character right off the bat. Really if you haven’t seen her in this film yet you are missing out, it’s by far one of her best performances to date. That being said my favourite song in the film adaptation is called moving too fast and is sung by Jamie. This one tells quickly the story of how his career is progressing and Jeremy Jordan’s voice is absolutely flawless. Seriously he is incredible.

Perhaps what I adore about this film is how they successfully transferred the story from stage to screen. They managed to keep the subtle vibe to the couples life in NYC without adding too much Hollywood glamour that could have been done when given a story of a young couple living in the big apple. I find that the jump from stage to screen can be a daunting task when trying to decide how to successfully convert. In particular i was intrigued to how different they would have to make the visuals. I say this as in the musical stage version the two lovers barely interact until their duets. They each sing their solo’s as their way of story telling from opposite sides of the stage and when the time comes for their stories to cross, as do they and the story continues. This however would have made, probably the worlds most boring film and i am glad that the director Richard LaGravenese didn’t take an unrealistic approach to the adaptation and in fact i quite liked the minimal and slightly un imaginative approach. Watch it, you’ll see what i mean.

 If you haven’t already seen this movie I highly recommend it. I then recommend you download the album, research Jason Robert Brown and get hooked on his works as they are truly magical.

If you’ve seen the film before then do let me know in the comments!

Danielle Jade

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