I was so unbelievably excited last week to attend the first preview of The Last Five Years at the St James Theatre. Going into it, I already knew the show was going to be good. The show is one of my all time favourite scores. The production was directed by Jason Robert Brown who also wrote/composed the piece. And the two characters were to be played by Samantha Barks & Jonathan Bailey, who I knew had previously worked together before, so clearly they have chemistry.
The Last Five Years follows Cathy & Jamie over the course of the five years they were together. However, the show is told in an original structure. Cathy recounts their relationship from the moment they’ve broken up all the way back to their first date. But Jamie recounts their relationship from their first date to when they’ve broken up. And there’s only one moment in the show where both characters cross over. At the same time we also see Jamie’s career as a writer soar while Cathy’s acting career is struggling to take off. The actors in the show are on stage by themselves most of the time, conversing with other characters that aren’t physically on stage but you feel like they are there.
It’s one of those shows that I really connect to. Which sounds weird cause I’ve never had a relationship of Jamie & Cathy’s level, but I understand what it’s like to be struggling to find your next job and having no idea where your career is going. Samantha Barks’ is the most incredible Cathy and to be honest, I can’t thank her enough for bringing a character I really connect with to life! Samantha is one of my favourite singers ever (see my review here of her debut gig as a solo artist!) – from the way she can belt to the way her voice can soften. And this show showcases her brilliant acting talents as well. “See I’m Smiling” is the second song she performs in the show, and my absolute favourite and she knocks it out of the park, like she did throughout the whole show!
Jonathan Bailey was also absolutely incredible. I was SO impressed by his singing voice. I had already known he was a fantastic actor, due to his work in Broadchurch. And I had seen him in American Psycho: The Musical way back when but his singing wasn’t as highlighted in that show as it is in TL5Y. By the end of his first song “Shiksa Goddess” I was floored. He also has this really special way of, when he’s singing to you, you feel like you’re there in the scene with him! (This TOTALLY did not happen to me during the Schmuel Song… nope….)
Combined with the minimal staging, an incredible orchestra and fantastic lighting design & costumes, the show is a masterpiece. I can’t wait to go back and revisit the show while it’s still running. If you see one show before the year is out, please make it The Last Five Years!
The Last Five Years have just announced a one week extension and is currently running at the St James Theatre until 3rd December. You can find more information at https://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/theatre/last-5-years/
Until next time,