Book, music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The original Chicago production opened on 16 May 2001 and was directed by Daisy Prince, running for 52 (?) performances. The show opened Off-Broadway on 3 March 2002, running for 80 (?) performances.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
Cathy and Jamie’s relationship has lasted five years. As the story begins, Cathy is at the beginning of the relationship and Jamie is at the end. Every story has two sides, and here Jamie moves forward in time as Cathy moves backward. Cathy has just found a note from her husband, Jamie, signifying the end of their marriage. While she still struggles with their break-up, she feels he has easily moved on without her (STILL HURTING). « Five years prior, Jamie has just met Cathy. He is soaring from the high of it. He recounts his past relationships, feeling as if he’s been waiting for her all his life (SHIKSA GODDESS – replaced I COULD BE IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE LIKE YOU).
Cathy (moving backwards in time) is hopeful for the healing of their marriage. Jamie has come to meet her in Ohio where she has been working as a performer (SEE I’M SMILING). She believes he will see her show and they will be able to spend time together. Though it’s her birthday, she is let down when he has to leave earlier than expected for a party back home. « After their first date, Jamie (who is moving forwards in time) has made a phone call to a potential literary agent — a contact made through his college professor. Unbelievably, this agent seems interested in his work. He is 23 years old. Soon his career begins to soar and Jamie decides he wants to move in with Cathy. His life is moving at top speed, but no matter. He’s living the way he wants to (MOVING TOO FAST).
Catherine’s career is struggling. She’s been turned down by a theatrical agent. As she waits patiently during a book signing of Jamie’s, someone asks her what it’s like to be married to a famous author. She expresses how she rides out his manic writing spells where he completely shuts her out emotionally then suddenly lets her back in (I’M A PART OF THAT). « It’s their second Christmas together and Jamie reads a story he wrote for her (THE SCHMUEL SONG). It is intended to inspire her to go out and pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. He tells her to quit her day job and go and be happy. He also tells her how lucky he is to be in love with her.
Cathy has gotten a summer stock job in Ohio. The situation is less than desirable, but she’s trying to make the most of it. Meanwhile, Jamie is back in New York, his latest book a bestseller. Cathy writes a letter to Jamie as she anxiously awaits his visit (A SUMMER IN OHIO). « Jamie is alone prepping himself to propose to Cathy. She appears in her wedding dress and meets him at the altar. Physically together for the first time during this show, they exchange vows and promises of an undying love (THE NEXT TEN MINUTES).
Jamie, now married, begins to feel the temptation and attraction of other women he meets at parties. His success has made him the center of attention, and though he feels the pull, he loves Cathy and believes his marriage will remain strong (A MIRACLE WOULD HAPPEN). He calls Cathy who is out of town working, and promises to meet her as soon as he can escape his publisher. « Cathy has just auditioned for and gotten another job (WHEN YOU COME HOME TO ME). Cathy shares with her father the stress and difficulty of daily auditioning and daily rejection (CLIMBING UPHILL). At another audition, she flounders as a million different things about her life with Jamie race through her head. She is determined, however, to have her own career and not live in the shadow of her now-famous husband (AUDITION SEQUENCE). « Jamie is doing a reading at a bookstore. The passage he reads is a metaphor for Cathy’s drive and the feeling of his isolation from her.
Jamie is in the middle of a fight with Cathy. He has just gotten a book published and wants her to go to the party the publisher is throwing for him. She refuses. He doesn’t feel supported by her and does not understand why she is angry (IF I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN YOU). « Cathy is driving Jamie to meet her parents. She is happy and excited and talks about her disappointments of the past in contrast to her bright future with him (I CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT).
Jamie wakes up beside another woman. He knows he must go see Cathy in Ohio. Fighting panic and a feeling of inevitability, he admits to the other woman that he has fallen in love with her (NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW). « Cathy floats on air at the end of her first date with Jamie. They have shared their first kiss and she wants the magical moment to last forever. She bids him GOODBYE UNTIL TOMORROW. « At the same time, Jamie ends their relationship (I COULD NEVER RESCURE YOU). He simply bids her goodbye.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. The Last Five Years Original Off-Broadway Cast CD. 2. Songs For a New World Original Off-Broadway Cast CD. 3. Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes Jason Robert Brown CD. 4. The Last Five Years Vocal Selections. 5. The Happiest Corpse I’ve Ever Seen Musical Theatre History 1980 – 2005 by Ethan Mordden (with information on The Last Five Years).