I used to say I didn’t do musicals but that was before I saw Oliver Rowe’s mind-boggling 2008 production of Les Miserables for the Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre.
So I was doubly interested to go along to the Garrick to talk to him about The Last Five Years, the modern musical he’s starring in along with Kelly Humphrey at the Garrick Studio this month.
So what’s it about? I wonder.
“It’s the story of a five year marriage,” Oliver explains, “with a twist, because its two characters tell their joint story through songs, but one tells it from the start of their marriage and the other tells it in retrospect.
“In the course of the show’s single 90 minute act their versions coincide only once, in the middle, with their wedding.”
And the composer?
“Jason Robert Brown,” he says, “is a modern Sondheim. No one’s heard of him over here yet, but he has two big shows opening on Broadway next year.
“I first heard him many years ago but I had to wait until I was the right age for the part to do this show. Then I found Kelly Humphrey who has an operatic background and six superb musicians so we really have a dream cast of eight performers for this ensemble piece.”
I already want to hear more. Oliver duly elaborates.
“The story is really based on Brown’s first marriage, where he was a 24 year old successful writer and his wife was a struggling actress. It’s a heartfelt story, funny and emotional, told in an intense 90 minutes.
“Here you have two characters telling the same tale but from their own very different perspectives, at times playful and excited, at others heartbroken and angry, and the audience goes on a huge journey with them, drawing their own conclusions about who is right.
“It’s an intense piece, with just two performers and the musicians, really a small chamber orchestra, in the warm, intimate space of the Garrick studio.”
Suddenly it looks as if Lichfield’s going truly transatlantic with this show and if Oliver’s past record is anything to go by I reckon it’ll be more than a match for Broadway. I can’t wait for it to happen.
The Last Five Years runs in the Garrick Studio from tomorrow (November 5) to Saturday. For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.
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