High School Troupe Gives Last 5 Years Its Seattle Premiere, One Night Only, May 22

News   High School Troupe Gives Last 5 Years Its Seattle Premiere, One Night Only, May 22 The Last 5 Years, Jason Robert Brown's grown-up two-character musical about a broken marriage, will get its Seattle premiere in an unlikely staging — by high school students.

The award-winning sung-through musical seen Off-Broadway in 2002 spawned a cast album and is now sprouting at regional theatres all across North America.

Before it gets an Equity staging in theatre-friendly Seattle, the show will have its Seattle premiere one night only, May 22, by the amateur high school troupe called Theatre for Snobs, created by drama students out of Newport High School in Bellevue, WA. According to Brandon Ivie, the co-founder of Theatre for Snobs who is also playing the show's male role, Jamie, the staging marks the work's first amateur production and the first by a high school. Sarah Davis plays wife Cathy.

The performance takes place 7 PM May 22 at Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E. Prospect Street. Admission is a whopping $7. For information, call (206) 654-3100.

The Last 5 Years is the last show of Theatre for Snobs' inaugural 2002-03 season.

The musical, recently staged by the Equity Philadelphia Theatre Company and currently by the Equity company called TheatreWorks, in Hartford, CT, tells the story of a marriage from two points of view: Her story starts at the end of their relationship; his begins on the day they met. According to the Theatre for Snobs release, "In this incredibly original look at contemporary relationships, Jason Robert Brown tells their story vividly through some of the most exciting songs in musical theatre to date."

The musical won two Drama Desk Awards in 2002 (for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.

This production will be entered into the first annual 5th Avenue Awards presented by The 5th Avenue Theatre which recognizes excellence in high school musical theatre.

Seattle music director R.J. Tancioco (of the Northwest premiere of Songs for a New World) handles musical direction and accompanies. Local actor and teacher Ann Evans is vocal director and stages the piece.

Both teen-age performers are pursuing acting outside of their high school lives. Actress Sarah Davis recently made it to the second season of "America's Most Talented Kid," singing "It's Raining Men." Ivie will study drama in college come fall, and is working on a vocal CD.

"I am not sure if Jason Robert Brown knows about Theatre for Snobs' production," Ivie told Playbill On-Line. "I'm assuming he does — or at least his lawyers."

What happens when the student who formed Theatre for Snobs graduates this spring and goes off to the University of Washington?

Ivie explained, "Theatre for Snobs is planning on continuing next year. I am the co-artistic director with Evyn Williams, who is a junior. So she will become the leader of the troupe next year. We already have a season picked out."

Theatre for Snobs was formed after a peak in student interest in learning how to produce their own shows, Ivie said. "At Newport High School there are multiple acting and technical theatre classes, but none that give students the experience of producing a full-length production," Ivie told Playbill On-Line. "Evyn Williams and I had co-directed two one-act plays the year before and were both interested in producing, so we went with our plan to the Student Council."

The friends were approved as a club and given $200, which has turned into almost $2,000 in the course of one year. Shortly after being approved, auditions were held for 12 spots in the Theatre for Snobs troupe. A second round of auditions were held in the middle of the year for the One Act Festival.