Norbert Butz and Lauren Kennedy will be the singing marrieds in the world premiere of Jason Robert Brown's intimate new musical, The Last Five Years, playing May 16-June 24 at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL.
Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist Brown, best known for the Harold Prince-directed Parade, penned the personal work, drawing on his own troubled marriage. Daisy Prince, who helmed Brown's well-received 1995 revue, Songs For a New World, directs the staging for the Chicago-area resident company.
The two-person tuner follows the relationship of a "nice Jewish boy" and an Irish Catholic girl in New York City. During a five year period, they fall in love, marry and their bond loosens into divorce. Tom Murray musical directs.
Butz appeared as Roger in Rent on Broadway, toured as the Emcee in Cabaret and was featured in the recent Off-Broadway staging of Saved. Kennedy's credits include the recent Arlington, VA, staging of The Rhythm Club, Broadway's Side Show and Sunset Boulevard in New York and Los Angeles and tour.
The conceit of The Last Five Years has the woman, Kathleen, beginning her story at the end of the relationship and working her way back, and Jamie starting from the first date and working forward. They sing together only once, in the middle of the play, at their wedding. Jewish and Irish musical themes are woven with contemporary pop and Broadway sounds to create a multicultural urban atmosphere. Brown is expected to be in residence at Northlight during the run of the staging, and will conduct the six-piece band. Rehearsals will be in New York City at Lincoln Center Theatre, which initially commissioned the work. Rehearsals transfer to Chicago in late April.
Brown was music director of Dinah Was, which Northlight presented in 1998-99. Subsequently, he accepted Northlight artistic director B.J. Jones' offer of 350-seat Skokie venue for the premiere of The Last Five Years. Daisy Prince is daughter of legendary director Harold Prince.The design team is Beowolf Boritt (set and costumes), Chris Binder (lighting) and Rob Milburn, Michael Bodeen and Ray Nardelli (sound).
Northlight Theatre has a $2.1 million annual budget and is the resident producing theatre (using two venues) at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, at 9501 N. Skokie Blvd. in Skokie. The troupe has 9,000 subscribers.
For information, call (847) 673-6300 or try the web site at http://www.northlight.org.
— By Kenneth Jones