Prepare for your heart to be broken in forwards and reverse when acclaimed director Darren Yap brings Jason Robert Brown’s celebrated musical ‘The Last Five Years’ to La Boite Theatre.
‘The Last Five Years’ tells the story of Jamie and Cathy, a New York couple in their 20s who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.
“I think people relate to it because most people I know, including myself, we’ve all experienced first, or second and third, true loves,” Darren says of the show’s enduring popularity.
“And we’ve all experienced heartbreak whether we’ve been the one dumped or we had to dump that person for whatever reasons. Its universal themes are overwhelming in a way.”
In ‘The Last Five Years’, Jamie tells his story in chronological order while Cathy shares hers in reverse, allowing audiences an immersive exploration of their relationship as it blooms and inevitably implodes. The only time when Jamie and Cathy interact on stage is during their wedding.
Starring in the lead roles are Robert Tripolino as Jamie and Danielle Remulta as Cathy, both making their La Boite debut. As the only players in the intimate two-hander, Darren says it was essential he select two actors that shared the right chemistry to convey the joy and despair of Jamie and Cathy’s doomed coupling with the emotional depth Brown originally intended.
“Not only does Danielle sing like a dream but we spoke about love, her first love, her relationship with her family and partner,” he says.
“We just genuinely chatted about what it feels like to fall in love and the fear of falling out of love; we talked quite a lot about that. I loved her energy and optimism of life, which is what Cathy needs because that’s the wonderfulness and the tragedy of it.
“Rob really wanted to roll up his sleeves, come to La Boite, come to Brisbane and play this role he’s always wanted to play. This is not rocket science to me; I’ve got a great pair who are very open for the challenge, because it is just them, and I think they look so good together.”
‘The Last Five Years’ has become a beloved staple of musical theatre since it was originally staged at Chicago’s Northlight Theatre in 2001 and debuted off-Broadway in 2002, with a movie adaptation starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan released in 2014.
In taking on a modern classic with little room for deviation in the story, Darren has focused his directorial nous on the set, costume and lighting design of ‘The Last Five Years’ that brings it into a new era while preserving the emotional heart of the narrative and score.
“Particularly when a show has been around for a long time, the temptation is absolutely to make it feel fresh, new and great to look at,” Darren says.
“This is the challenge: how do I do that and not corrupt the lyrics and change the structure? The exciting idea is that I’m working with a fabulous designer [Chloe Greaves] and we’re making it now for 2022.
“Let’s not even go down the road of COVID. Let’s talk about now, make it look modern and young, so it doesn’t feel dated. So that from an acting and design point of view, it feels current and relatable.” 'The Last Five Years' plays La Boite Theatre (Brisbane) 30 May-18 June.