The new Jason Robert Brown musical, The Last Five Years, which opened at Off-Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre March 3, will be recorded March 11 for Sh-K-Boom Records. The CD release is scheduled for April 16.
This marks the first musical cast-album recording for the label that has released other albums by such theatre notables as Adam Pascal, Alice Ripley and The Last Five Years' own Sherie René Scott. The company's mission is to "bridge the gap between pop music and theatre." The label boasts the first recording of the annual "Broadway on Broadway" event. Jeffrey Lesser produces the Brown disc.
The chamber musical by lyricist-librettist-composer Brown (Parade) features the songs "Still Hurting," "Jamie's Song," "See I'm Smiling," "Moving Too Fast," "A Part of That," "The Schmuel Song," "A Summer in Ohio," "The Next Ten Minutes," "A Miracle Would Happen/When You Come Home to Me," "Climbing Uphill," "If I Didn't Believe in You," I Can Do Better Than That," "Nobody Needs to Know" and "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You."
Norbert Leo Butz, who originated the male role in the two hander last summer at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL, reprises his role in New York. Aida actress Scott plays the other half of the musical's quickly-dissolving marriage. Daisy Prince, who staged Brown's Songs for a New World, directs The Last Five Years, which has sets and costumes by Beowulf Boritt, lighting by Chris Binder and sound by Duncan Edwards.
Lincoln Center Theatre commissioned the piece but allowed Northlight to test it in a world premiere. The musical charts the rise and fall of a marriage of a "nice Jewish boy" and an actress in New York City, over five years and from different points of view. The conceit of The Last Five Years has the woman, Cathy, beginning her story at the end of the relationship and working her way back, and Jamie, a novelist, starting from the first date and working forward. They sing together only once, in the middle of the play, at their wedding.
Marty Bell and Arielle Tepper, the new producers of The Last Five Years, grabbed the property after Lincoln Center Theatre backed out of a planned 2002 mounting.
The show has reportedly undergone a variety of minor changes during its preview period, some of the tweaks apparently fueled by legal considerations. There have been charges the show was too autobiographical and referenced Brown's real-life broken marriage; Brown told Playbill On-Line the show was not autobiography.
— by Ernio Hernandez
and Robert Simonson