If the local theater scene has gotten bland & repetitive for you, do not fret as ‘The Last 5 Years’ provides a breath of fresh air in its unique story telling. While being basically ‘a boy-meets-girl, boy-&-girl-fall-in love, boy-&-girl-fall-out-of-love’ plot, they way it is told sets it apart from the hoi polloi of stage productions being done currently.
Cathy Hyatt, played by Nikki Gil, begins the play starting from the end of the marriage in reverse chronological order, & ends at the beginning when she & Jamie Wellerstein, played by Joaquin Valdez, first meet. Jamie in turn acts his part chronologically, beginning enthusiastically by meeting Cathy & ends in a somber note in their divorce, where they fall out of love.
This type of storytelling has its interesting points. For one, it seems like a monologue even though there are two actors involved. The actors do not interact directly, not even making eye contact, except for the middle part of the play where their timelines intersect during their marriage.
This gives us the 2nd thing to look forward to in the play, which is the inevitable meeting of the 2 characters after several minutes of not interacting, it is something the audience begins to look forward to happening.
Another fascinating aspect of the musical is the extreme contrasting emotional moods of both characters in any point in the timeline. Where Jamie is ecstatic by initially meeting the beautiful Cathy, she on the other hand is downright devastated by the end of a lengthy relationship with the man she loves. In turn, where Cathy is jovial with dating a great guy like Jamie, he on the other hand is tormented by cheating on his wife. In effect this unbalances the viewer, giving us an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Nikki Gil was as divine as ever, her singing close to perfection as humanly possible, high & powerful yet retaining melody, with no notes being missed. She gives an excellent performance, making Cathy earn our sympathy by being perky & fun amidst such a dour theme. I saw Joaquin Valdez in ‘Spring Awakening’ & I am glad his singing & acting chops have not faltered a bit by his focus on the directing side of the performing arts :).
I enjoyed the fact that the play was unbiased, & showed both sides of the coin so that the audience can pick & choose which character to root for. It was risky since if written incorrectly, one could villainize Jamie & I don’t think that was what the creators wanted. The way the play ended was heart wrenching, but I preferred it that way as it epitomizes real life. In real life, happy endings are a rare thing indeed, which makes it more precious.
‘The Last 5 Years’ is 9 Works Theatrical’s masterpiece musical for their 5th year in the industry. Santi Santamaria as Executive Producer, Directed by Robbie Guevara, music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, starring Nikki Gil & Joaquin Valdez. ‘The Last 5 Years’ will run from August 9 to 31 at the RCBC CPR Auditorium, Ayala Avenue, Makati CIty. Visit TicketWorld or www.facebook.com/9workstheatrical for more information.
The Last 5 Years promotional videos
Nikki Gil for The Last 5 Years promotional video
Joaquin Valdes for The Last 5 Years promotional video
The Last 5 Years photo gallery