Composer, lyricist and book writer Brown directs his semi-autobiographical work that stars Wolfe — straight from the acclaimed Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood — as struggling actress Cathy Hyatt, who falls in love with on-the-rise Jewish novelist Jamie Wellerstein, played by Kantor, the final Mark in Broadway's Tony and Pulitzer-winning Rent.
On directing the piece, Brown told Playbill.com in a recent interview, "It wasn't my idea, initially. A producer wanted to produce a revival on Broadway if I directed it, because he knew I had a very specific take on the show. After years trying to pull together a Broadway production with the casting nonsense required, I finally decided I didn’t want to wait for an Anne Hathaway and a Jake Gyllenhaal, so I came to Second Stage. This is a show that many people love, but almost none have actually seen — at least not with my vision and the kind of amazing cast you can find in New York. It was time."
This is the first New York City production of the popular property (500 regional productions and 3,000 performances around the world) in 11 years. Although Brown said that bits and pieces of the work have been updated throughout the years, The Last Five Years will not take place in 2013; the piece will stay true to its original incarnation, which premiered in Chicago in 2001 and was later produced Off-Broadway — starring Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz — in 2002 at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
Due to high ticket demand, the production extended its limited engagement through April 28; it was originally scheduled through April 21. Opening night is set for April 2 at Second Stage's Tony Kiser Theatre.
According to Second Stage, the musical "tells the emotionally powerful story of two twenty-something New Yorkers who dive head first into a marriage fueled by the optimism that comes with finding 'the one.' But in a city where professional and personal passions collide and only the strongest relationships survive, navigating the waters of love and matrimony can sometimes prove too much. Funny, honest and intimate, with an exuberantly romantic score, The Last Five Years takes a bold look at one young couple's hope that love endures the test of time."
The original Off-Broadway production of The Last Five Years, directed by Daisy Prince, received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics, and was nominated for five additional Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical. It was also nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical.
Brown also wrote music and lyrics for the musicals 13, Parade and Songs for a New World, which will be seen in an upcoming one-night-only New York concert March 11. His upcoming musical projects include the Broadway-bound new work Honeymoon in Vegas, a musical adaptation of the 1992 film that was written with Andrew Bergman and will premiere at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, and The Bridges of Madison County, a musical adapted with Marsha Norman from the best-selling novel.
Second Stage's Tony Kiser Theatre is located at 305 W. 43rd Street. For more information, visit 2ST.com.