Theater Info for Maryland

Heritage Players The Last Five Years

By • Jul 17th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
The Last Five Years
Heritage Players
Rice Auditorium, Spring Grove Campus, Catonsville, MD
Through July 22nd
80 Minutes without intermission
$15/$13 Students, Seniors, Military
Reviewed July 13th, 2012

There is an old saying that “less is more.” Well, if that is true, than the Heritage Player’s production of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years is the epitome of that statement. Equipped with a bare stage, a small but elegantly appropriate set that drips down onto the floor, a four-piece technically masterful and passionate band, a few limited but spot-on props, simple but interpretively appropriate costumes, two brilliant, honest and fully submerged-in-their-roles actors, and a creative, simple, artistic, innovative, daring, fearless, and amazingly talented director make this production an absolute must-see.

Loosely based on Jason Robert Brown’s own life, marriage, and career, the show tells the story of a couple: Cathy and Jamie. Cathy starts the story at the end of year five by finding a note and a wedding band on the table and goes backwards and ends at the beginning of year one, and Jamie’s journey starts at the beginning of year one after meeting his “Shiksa Goddess” and ends at the end of year five. The musical is predominantly told through a series of songs by each character with slight fill-ins of minor dialogue. JRB’s music and lyrics are touching, provoking, and yet somehow familiar to almost all of us or to anyone who’s ever loved. Without giving too much away, Cathy and Jamie’s journey has a share of ups and downs, goods and bads, and rights and wrongs. Each character makes an incredibly strong case for themselves and their decisions.

Brett Hurt (Cathy) is absolutely breathtaking. The words “brilliantly talented” do not do her justice. She attacks the role with such passion and commitment that you are actually transformed into her world. Equipped with a gorgeous voice and a spectacular range, impeccable timing and understanding of the role, Hurt takes you on a journey like no other. From the very first moment as she begins with the iconic “Still Hurting” to the hysterically vaudevillian interpretation of “A Summer in Ohio” to the very last moment of “Goodbye until Tomorrow,” she holds you in the palm of her hand and makes you a part of her life.

Stephen Deininger (Jamie) was born to play this role. He holds on to every word, never misses a moment, a subtle nuance, never overplays or underplays the genuine passion, frustration, determination, humor, anger and love of a complex but yet familiar to all of us character. Though at few rare moments, Deininger slightly struggles with a difficult and demanding vocal range however makes up for it ten folds by leaving his heart and soul to each and every audience member. His interpretation of “The Schmuel Song” and especially “Nobody Needs to Know” are some of the highlights of the show.

Hurt and Deininger have amazing chemistry between them, and though predominantly they each spend the show alone on stage telling us their tale, when they do meet for their wedding serenade “The Next Ten Minutes” and finally but briefly embrace each other, the truest form of love is revealed.

This musical unfortunately is not popular, mainstream, or well-known to regular theatre goers or non-theatre folk. However it has become a cult classic. So do yourself a favor, join the cult, and join it now. Go see The Last Five Years and be “A Part of That.”

Photo Gallery

Brett Hurt (Cathy) performs 'Still Hurting' Stephen Deininger (Jamie) performs 'Moving Too Fast'
Brett Hurt (Cathy) performs ‘Still Hurting’
Stephen Deininger (Jamie) performs ‘Moving Too Fast’
Stephen Deininger (Jamie) and Brett Hurt (Cathy) perform 'The Next Ten Minutes' Stephen Deininger (Jamie) and Brett Hurt (Cathy) perform 'I Could Never Rescue You/Goodbye Until Tomorrow'
Stephen Deininger (Jamie) and Brett Hurt (Cathy) perform ‘The Next Ten Minutes’
Stephen Deininger (Jamie) and Brett Hurt (Cathy) perform ‘I Could Never Rescue You/Goodbye Until Tomorrow’
Stephen Deininger (Jamie) and Brett Hurt (Cathy) perform 'The Next Ten Minutes'
Stephen Deininger (Jamie) and Brett Hurt (Cathy) perform ‘The Next Ten Minutes’

Photos by Heritage Players

Cast of Characters

  • Cathy Hiatt: Brett Hurt
  • Jamie Wellerstein: Stephen Deininger
  • Understudies: Amy Haynes (Cathy), Brian Mellen (Jamie)

Production Staff

  • Director: Wendy Meetze
  • Music Director:Robin Trenner
  • Stage Manager: Grant Meyers
  • Set Design: Ryan Geiger
  • Set Decoration: Wendy Meetze, Allan Gillis, Katie Sheldon
  • Dramaturg: Lisa Sharpe
  • Costuming: Robin Trenner, Lisa Sharpe, the cast
  • Master Carpenter: Allan Gillis
  • Sound Technician: Zach Sine
  • Light Board Technician: Joel Seizer
  • Master Electrician: Stuart Kazanow
  • Stagehand: Daniel Goodrich

Pit Orchestra

  • Piano: Brant D. Challacombe
  • Guitar: Chris Sisson
  • Bass: Teddy Hersey
  • Synthesizer: Robin Trenner

Business Staff

  • Producer: Katie Sheldon
  • Publicist: Wendy Meetze
  • House Manager: Christian Hurt
  • Box Office: Heidi Vause
  • Graphic Art/Photography: Stuart Kazanow, Wendy Meetze
  • Program Design: Wendy Meetze

Disclaimer: The Heritage Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. THP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio web site, which did not influence this review.

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worked for twenty years as a professional actor and director, as well as worked a myriad of other theatrical production roles at various levels. In recent years, he served as Artistic Director/President of STROyKA Theatre in Washington, DC. Roman privately teaches acting, voice, and piano and serves as a consultant to various groups and schools. His primary role is stay-at-home dad and full-time college student. He also directs the Voices Unlimited Youth Choir at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD.