The Last Five Years is an off Broadway musical that takes the average love story to a whole new level. This show is written for two cast members, one male and one female, and an orchestra. The story is interesting not only because of Jason Robert Brown’s incredibly complex composition style but also because of his approach to the story. The story line is the typical love story with a small twist, her story begins at the end of their relationship, and his begins on the first day they met. The two are never on stage together, the one exception being the proposal scene.
Although I love almost all musicals, this one holds a special place in my heart for the sincerity of the storyline, the surprisingly uplifting nature of the story (even though it is about a failed relationship), and the complexity of the repeating motives. Unlike most other musicals, this composition does not have any “reprised” numbers. The repeating motives are passed from the male character to the female and visa versa after the proposal scene. The effect this has is that there are a few motives for the beginning/successful part of the relationship and completely different themes for when the relationship goes sour. An interesting side note is that most casting agencies will not allow you to walk in with a song from Jason Robert Brown show because it is far too difficult for many accompanists to sight-read.
To me, this particular musical is more successful than any other in its genre to truly capture human emotion. Unless you’re heartless, there is no way to listen to this recording and not be moved.