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The Last Five Years
“Jamie is over and Jamie is gone,” Cathy sings at the beginning of The Last Five Years, Jason Robert Brown’s intimate song-cycle. She’s alone on stage, mourning the death of her marriage, pouring out her anger and confusion. The song ends—and suddenly Jamie appears, transporting viewers back to the very beginning of their story with a testament to love’s first pangs in his song “Shiksa Goddess.” The pair begins to reenact their relationship, with Cathy moving backwards in time from its heartbreaking ending and Jamie moving forwards from its luminous beginning.
Its unconventional exploration of love, intimacy, and life in Ohio made The Last Five Years a smashing success upon its Off-Broadway premiere in 2002. And the music itself is just as essential to the narrative as the lyrics—the New York Times asserted that in the musical, the Tony-winning Brown “confirms his sparkling facility as a composer, fluidly mixing diverse styles … from waltzes to rhythm and blues.”