Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and Tony nominee Joshua Henry (Shuffle Along) give a special concert performance September 12 of Jason Robert Brown's musical The Last Five Years, which is directed by the composer himself. The concert, part of Brown’s residence at SubCulture, is sold out.
The performance at Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, midtown Manhattan, aids one of Brown’s personal causes, gun control, with proceeds going to The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The national organization seeks to create a safer America by cutting gun deaths in half by 2025.
The Last Five Years (2001) charts the relationship of budding novelist Jamie Wellerstein and struggling actress Cathy Hiatt over the course of five years. The show uses an innovative structure, telling Cathy’s story backward in time as it tells Jamie’s story chronologically. Songs from the show have become favorites among cabaret singers and recording artists. A film version was released in 2015.
Brown had previously released a statement saying, “Sometimes all of the elements come together serendipitously, and that has been the case with every element of this event. From the moment I heard Cynthia sing ‘I Can Do Better Than That’ at the Royal Festival Hall in London last year, I have been determined to see her interpretation of Cathy, one of the most nuanced and difficult roles I’ve ever written; and who could possibly be a better partner than Joshua, a singular extraordinary performer who was the definitive Jim Conley in Parade last year at Geffen Hall.”
Brown’s statement continued, ”To have such amazing artists bring my work to life is thrilling enough, but to be using this performance to benefit the invaluable and desperately important work of the Brady Center is a particular honor, the fulfillment of a real obligation for me and, I think, for everyone in the theatrical community—to raise awareness and raise funds to stop one of the defining moral failures of our time.”
Brown also told the New York Times, “I don’t have the ability to make a difference at the voting booth, and everyone we know is going to be voting the same way. This feels like political work that I can do in this election season. I have friends who go to Pennsylvania and knock on doors. This is the thing I can do.”
(Updated September 12, 2016)