The musical premiered at Chicago's Northlight Theatre in 2001 and was then produced Off-Broadway in March 2002. Since then it has had numerous productions both in the United States and internationally. The 2014 American musical comedy-drama film starred Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.
The musical chronicles the five year romance between Jamie Wellerstein and Cathy Hiatt . However, it does not take place in chronological order: all of Cathy's songs begin after they have separated and move backwards in time to the beginning of their courtship, while Jamie's songs start when they have first met and proceeds through their crumbling marriage. Cathy's first song, (Still Hurting), begins at the point of break-up and runs backwards; while Jamie's tale starts at the beginning of the relationship, with an almost salsa number (Shiksa Goddess), and hurtles forward with his testimony. The characters do not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines cross. They both have to sing six or seven difficult songs, standing alone on stage, testing their endurance and level of technique.
Samantha Barks will play Cathy. She is best known for playing Eponine in Les Miserables, a role she played in the West End, the 25th Anniversary Concerts at the O2, and in the 2012 film adaptation alongside Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Eddie Redmayne. Samantha came to prominence as a finalist on BBC’s I’d Do Anything, and later played Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s touring production of Oliver!. Recent theatre credits include the title role in the world premiere of Amelie – A New Musical (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Mallory/Avril in City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Velma Kelly in Chicago (Hollywood Bowl) and Sally Bowles in Cabaret (UK Tour). Recent film credits include Interlude in Prague (Stillking Films), Bitter Harvest (Devil’s Harvest Productions), The Canary (Pioneer Pictures), the voice of Miss Acacia in Jack & The Cuckoo-Clock Heart (EuropaCorp) and The Christmas Candle (Pinewood Studios). Samantha also recently released her debut eponymous album “Samantha Barks” and is currently on a nationwide tour.
Jonathan Bailey will play Jamie. He is best known for television roles including reporter Olly Stevens in ITV’s Broadchurch and Leonardo Da Vinci in BBC’s Leonardo, with other recent credits including W1A (BBC), Doctor Who (BBC), Crashing (Channel 4), Campus (Channel 4) and the upcoming Hooten and the Lady (Sky). Jonathan is also currently shooting the next series of Michaela Cole's Chewing Gum (E4). Theatre credits include American Psycho (Almeida Theatre), Othello (National Theatre) and South Downs (Harold Pinter Theatre), with film credits including 5 Children and It, Testament of Youth and the upcoming Crowhurst biopic The Mercy with Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, which is to be released next year.
The Last Five Years was inspired by Brown's failed marriage to Theresa O'Neill. O'Neill threatened legal action on the grounds the story of the musical represented her relationship with Brown too closely, and Brown changed the song "I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You" to "Shiksa Goddess" in order to reduce the similarity between the character Cathy and O'Neill.
The Last Five Years is written and directed by Jason Robert Brown, with musical direction by Torquil Munro. Casting is by Pippa Ailion. It is produced by Hilary and Stuart Williams in association with Paul Taylor-Mills
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