The Column Best in DFW Theater 2016

 

 

 

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THE LAST FIVE YEARS THE LAST FIVE YEARS
By Jason Robert Brown

Frisco Community Theatre

Director – Neale Whitmore
Musical Director – Shane Hurst
Set Design – Neale Whitmore & Patrick O’Neil
Lighting Design – Alex Ammons
Stage Manager – Katie Radke


CAST
Cathy Hiatt – Kim Borge Swarner
Jamie Wellerstein – Michael McCray

THE LAST FIVE YEARS THE LAST FIVE YEARS






Reviewed Performance 11/4/2016

Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

THE LAST FIVE YEARS By Jason Robert Brown Frisco Community Theatre

Director – Neale Whitmore Musical Director – Shane Hurst Set Design – Neale Whitmore & Patrick O’Neil Lighting Design – Alex Ammons Stage Manager – Katie Radke

CAST Cathy Hiatt – Kim Borge Swarner Jamie Wellerstein – Michael McCray

Reviewed performance on Friday, November 4th, 2016

Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Theater Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN



________________________THE LAST FIVE YEARS__________________________

Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Theater Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Relationships are complicated. Often, when the end there is not definite black or white, right or wrong. Blame lies varying shades of gray between the parties involved. The Last 5 Years explores the highs and lows of a relationship, from the flying elation of the first attraction, to the deep love felt when taking wedding vows, and finally the crushing sorrow when it all ends. What makes The Last 5 Years special, other than the fantastic music by Jason Robert Brown, is the method the story is told. We see the relationship from both characters’ perspectives. However, Jamie lives the relationship chronologically while Cathy presents it from the end to the beginning.

With only two actors, minimal set and props, The Last 5 Years depends upon the performance and Neale Whitmore is more than lucky to have Kim Borge Swarner and Michael McCray. Both Swarner and McCray are excellent in their roles. Their voices are perfect for the parts and each play the emotional range of a full relationship exceptionally. Swarner slips into a Texan accent on random phrases but it doesn’t detract from the overall greatness of the show. The presentations are professional level and should not be missed by musical theatre fans.

Equally important is the music and Shane Hurst did a great job recruiting a group of string musicians and a pianist to accompany Swarner and McCray. Pam Holcomb-Mclean on piano and Trevor Wilson on guitar each stand out on their particular instruments. Wilson’s playing is not only nice to listen to but fun to watch as he enjoyed the rhythms. Mclean’s playing is sublime and gets to delightfully torture Swarner indifferently playing Cathy’s audition songs during “Climbing Up Hill.” Mclean and Swarner’s interactions are a welcome spot of humor in an emotional downturn in the show.

Frisco Community Theatre’s black box doesn’t have much space for scenery but Neale Whitmore & Patrick O’Neil make effective use with acting stations set up on four points around the stage and two center, one upstage and one center-stage. Downstage, however, is an obnoxiously large, functional, spinning wheel resembling the one used in the board game The Game of Life. In fact, the whole stage is decorated with board spaces including a clearly marked “Start” and “Finish.” It’s a ham-fisted way to demonstrate a director’s concept but for some audience members the set decoration, along with Howard Korn’s explanation at the top of the show, helped clarify the start-to-end/end-to-start format of the show.

Another limitation of the black box is lighting. Alex Ammons does a good job isolating playing areas with his design, allowing Swarner and McCray to make entrances and exits without being distracting while the other performs. The best instance of this is the ending of “The Next Ten Minutes” as Jaime fades out while Cathy relives the beginning of the scene.

Frisco Community Theatre’s presentation of The Last 5 Years is great and should be seen. It’s a quick show, running one hour and twenty minutes with no intermission. It is easily one of the best entertainment values in DFW right now.




THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Frisco Community Theatre
BLACK BOX THEATER, FRISCO DISCOVERY CENTER, 8004 NORTH DALLAS PARKWAY, SUITE 200, FRISCO, TX 75034
Runs through November 20th

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM; Sundays at 2:30 PM. Extra matinée on Saturday, November 19 at 2:30 PM Tickets $22; Seniors (60+), Veterans $20; Students, Active Duty Military $14. $1.50 charge per ticket if paying with a credit card For info go to http://www.friscocommunitytheatre.com or call 972-370-2266.