Brown's Last Five Years Is Labor of Love for New Producers

News   Brown's Last Five Years Is Labor of Love for New Producers Three young theatre lovers — Michael Zorger, Josh Bennett and Maria Petrilak — have banded together to create MJM Productions in order to mount a production of The Last Five Years.
Jason Robert Brown (left) and Alfred Uhry
Jason Robert Brown (left) and Alfred Uhry Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The Jason Robert Brown musical, featuring Petrilak as Cathy (the struggling actress) and Zorger as Jamie (the successful novelist) will be presented July 9-18 at The Whitaker Center in Harrisburg, PA. Bennett directs the production of the two-hander, which played Off-Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre.

Producer-actor Zorger told Playbill On-Line, "We absolutely love this show. Josh and I were driving through Harrisburg listening to the CD and said that it had to be performed in our area. It is so relevant to many of the problems that our friends and families have gone through, and we have made sure that some of our advertisers in our program are marriage counselors so that audience members may be able to attack their own problems in the beginning if they are so inclined to. Josh and I tried to go to the local theatres and kept getting turned down. 'The cast is too small . . . We have our money spent for the year . . . We don't want to take the risk.' Well, we do! We are putting this show on independently to prove to the area that it can be done and it is worth it. Because of this, not only do we have to be actors and directors; we are producers, set designers, marketing directors, stage managers, lighting and sound designers, orchestral coordinators, and any other possible title one can imagine to be needed for a show to progress from an idea to a reality."

Zorger added, "We three artists have been both affected by and effective in Harrisburg's renaissance.  Collectively, we have taught, learned and worked in almost every theatre in the area and decided it is time to present what we have learned through these experiences before moving back to New York City in the fall.  We want to show everyone what living and learning the theatrical craft in Harrisburg ultimately means — quality performance at a professional level with a down-home verve."

The Last Five Years charts the rise and fall of the marriage between Cathy and Jamie over a period of five years. The conceit of The Last Five Years has the woman beginning her story at the end of the relationship and working her way back, while Jamie's story starts from the first date and works forward. They sing together only once, in the middle of the play, at their wedding. Song titles include "Still Hurting," "A Summer in Ohio," "The Next Ten Minutes," "I Can Do Better Than That," "Nobody Needs to Know" and "Goodbye Until Tomorrow."

The Last Five Years will be presented at the Whitaker Underground at Stage Two. Tickets, priced at $20, are available by calling (717) 214-ARTS. Visit www.whitakercenter.org for more information.