Jason Robert Brown’s iconic musical The Last Five Years tells the story of Jamie and Cathy’s marriage through a spellbinding score.
Parade Theatre Company have taken on the ambitious musical at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and with passionate performances, the cast convey the love story through a concert style production.
The show is a portrayal of Cathy and Jamie’s marriage but both of their timelines run in opposite directions. Cathy’s songs start from the disintegration of their relationship, opening with the vocally moving Still Hurting, Ellie Smit connects excellently to the role. Whilst Cathy is a struggling actor, Jamie is a highly successful writer whose career appears to be going from strength to strength.
Their relationship is a combination of jealousy, time constraint and distance. However what makes the show so special is Jason Robert Brown’s expressive score. Known for being one of the hardest musical theatre composers to master musically, the live band are remarkably impressive with their attention to detail and precision when it came to bringing his music to life. Tom Chippendale manages to not only play the intricacy of the piano part but also simultaneously conduct the piece which is an outstanding effort.
Alex White and Ellie Smit as Jamie and Cathy have the required chemistry, and despite the strength of their vocals, they appear to struggle during some of the higher notes. White’s version of If I Didn’t Believe In You is heartfelt and convincing and Smit mirrors this in her emotionally charged performance of See I’m Smiling. However it is the duets that are where Jason Robert Brown’s score is truly done justice. Smit and White’s voices blend together sensationally.
Although this should be described as a concert musical as opposed to a fully staged production, with a bit of vocal tightening it has the potential to be a superb show.
*** 3 stars
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Tickets can be found here.