North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre’s production of “The Last 5 Years,” directed by the young and prodigious Jay Dolan, offers a unique night of theatre. Presented as a song-cycle, this two-person show chronicles the rocky relationship of Cathy (Mary Reilly) and Jamie (Jaret Preston). At least, the two actors filled the roles on opening night; Lexie Hallaman and Jon Todd step into the demanding parts on alternating nights. Since the roles call on the actors to perform fifteen challenging vocal numbers total, it’s easy to see why two sets of performers are necessary.
The song-story unfolds in a unique way—Jamie’s story is told chronologically, while Cathy’s is told in reverse. Though this might create confusion for some viewers at first, the narrative structure quickly becomes clear. Reilly possesses the super-strong vocal talent necessary for her role, while Preston fills the stage with enthusiasm and a larger-than-life personality. Their strong performances become all the more clear against an essentially non-existent set. Other than black and white boxes which are moved around at will to become a bed, a park bench, and many other structures, and a pair of gifted musicians visible in silhouette behind a projection screen, the stage is left bare, calling upon the actors to carry the action and provide visual interest.
The play, which is performed without an intermission, runs at a steady clip despite many scenes that are emotionally heavy. What this production does really well, thanks in large part to the almost-tangible chemistry between Reilly and Preston, is capture the reality of an ultimately doomed relationship. All of the screaming matches, the tears, and the pain are told through touching, thoughtfully written songs that anyone who has ever had a broken heart can all too easily relate to.
The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents THE LAST FIVE YEARS at 8 p.m. March 15 and 16, 3 p.m. March 17, 8 p.m. March 22, 3 and 8 p.m. March 23, and p.m. March 24 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615. TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors 62+), except all seats $10 on Sundays. BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, , or https://www.vendini.com/. SHOW: http://www.nract.org/2013/02/04/the-last-five-years/. PRESENTER/VENUE: http://nract.org/. DIRECTIONS: http://www.idiots.net/improv-raleigh-village-idiots-contact.html. OTHER LINKS: The Last Five Years (background): http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000240 (Music Theatre International), http://jasonrobertbrown.com/projects/the-last-5-years/ (Jason Robert Brown’s website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Five_Years (Wikipedia). Jason Robert Brown: http://jasonrobertbrown.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Robert_Brown (Wikipedia).