The one-act two hander, directed by Matthew White and starring Damian Humbley and Lara Pulver, follows the courtship, marriage and break-up of a couple’s relationship, told from start to finish by the man and from finish to start by the woman.
Pulver’s stage credits include touring productions of Miss Saigon, High Society, The Boyfriend and Chicago. Australian-born Humbley was cast opposite Ruthie Henshall in Lloyd Webber’s Woman in White at the West End’s Palace Theatre, and credits in his home country include Billy Boy in Urinetown.
Composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown, who won a Tony in 1999 with his score to Parade, is considered by many to be the heir apparent to Stephen Sondheim. And, like Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, The Last Five Years distorts time in order to tell its story.
Composer Brown based the show, which received its Off-Broadway premiere in 2002, on the breakdown of his first marriage. If, for the composer, The Last Five Years was a cathartic show to write, it is also a painful musical to watch. "The irony is, the better the production, the more painful it is to watch," Brown told Playbill.com while visiting the show’s Southwark venue.
The composer's forthcoming musical 13 is due to receive its world premiere in Los Angeles in December. The show’s hero is a Jewish boy named Evan who moves with his mother from New York to Indiana. His mission — to get all the local cool kids to come to his Bar Mitzvah. "When I started 13, I wanted to write a show that was about kids. Not in a condescending youth-theatre kind of way, but just something about what it feels like to be that age."
The musical is cast entirely with 13-year-olds, 13 of them! Even the band is made up of 13-year-olds.
"We did a public workshop back in January and a friend of mine said, 'I think there’s more of you in this than in anything I’ve ever seen,'" said Brown.
For more on The Last Five Years, which is booking until Sept. 30, call (0)207 907 7060 or www.menierchocolatefactory.com.