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Photo credit: Maria Vartanova via Orpheus Musical Theatre's Facebook page.

Theatre Review: The Last Five Years at The Gladstone—until 11.03.18

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on November 3, 2018

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier. Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

After attempting to see The Last Five Years in late September with its original run, and missing our chance due to, you know, a tornado hitting the region that same night, we were thrilled to hear it had been remounted at The Gladstone. We had to wait for the first weekend in November, but it meant we still had an opportunity to see this show on stage. Orpheus Musical Theatre had it originally slated to run at Meridian Theatres at Centrepointe, but it only was able to complete one performance before the aftermath of the tornado forced them to cancel the remaining shows that weekend. It wasn’t long after that The Gladstone stepped up to host the remainder of the run. It’s wonderful to see the theatre community in Ottawa come together to ensure this production didn’t go unseen.

If you have never heard of The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It centres on only the two main characters who are simultaneously telling their love story, Jamie starting from the beginning, moving towards the end, and Cathy starting from the end and working her way back to the start.

The set, though simple, takes you through different times and spaces without ever really changing. It becomes its own character in the show helping Jamie and Cathy transition through time. One of the best parts of the show was little movements that connect the characters even when they are in different places in time—whether its a glass of water that Cathy sets down and Jamie picks up, or a book Jamie put on the table that Cathy analyzes as she sings. It connects two worlds that can seem so far apart and brings them closer together.

One of the best parts of the show was little movements that connect the characters even when they are in different places in time.

Both characters remain on stage the entire show, really only engaging with the other during one song, which is the only moment where both characters are in the same place at the same time, as their storytelling intersects at the middle of the relationship.

Michelle Gendron, who plays Cathy, gets a chance throughout the score to show off her vocal range with emotionally charged songs like “See I’m Smiling” and more bubbly comedic scores like “Summer in Ohio”. At the same time, this productions’ Jamie, played by Louie Rossetti, is able to engage and charm the audience with songs like “Moving Too Fast” and “A Miracle Would Happen”, lightening up some emotionally charged scenes from Cathy’s moment in the storyline.

With a 90 minute emotional roller coaster, the show was definitely worth the wait. Though the run has ended, you can still get your fix with The Last Five Years movie from 2014. Though it’s not the same as seeing such a powerful show on stage, it will tide you over until the chance to see it live comes around again.

Orpheus Musical Theatre presented The Last Five Years at The Gladstone from November 1-3, 2018.