New play explores life and love for artists

Making a life in the arts—whether it’s by writing, acting, painting, or designing—can be difficult. The Northeastern University Department of Theatre’s new production, The Last Five Years, will give young artists the opportunity to honestly explore ways to make that life a reality, says director Jonathan Carr.

The Last Five Years, which opens its two-week run on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, is a musical written by Jason Robert Brown. It tells the story of Jamie, a novelist, and Cathy, an actress, and their relationship over a five-year span. It focuses specifically on their struggle to develop an equal partnership while they both work toward successful careers in the arts.

“It begs the question of can there be an equal partnership when both people in a relationship are in the arts and one of them is always going to be more visibly successful,” said Megan Maloney, AMD’16, who is playing Cathy.

Carr, an assistant academic specialist in the theatre department, noted that his perspective as an artist making a living training other artists inspired him to select this musical. He is using The Last Five Years as a springboard to talk about the life art students want to create for themselves.

“The characters are just like the students in the cast,” Carr said. “They are young, ambitious artists. One of the interesting things for me about going down this path is taking people who may actually be in a situation similar to the characters and searching together for the pitfalls and the missed opportunities that lead to Cathy and Jamie’s struggles.”

What is unique about this musical is that Cathy’s story is told in reverse chronology while Jamie’s is told chronologically. “It is a show that will reward very close viewing and really reward repeat viewing,” Carr noted. “You are going to see something at the beginning of the production that you don’t realize has meaning until an hour later.”

Costumes also play an important role in connecting Cathy and Jamie as they move backward and forward through their relationship, said costume designer Sarah Darrow, AMD’15. For example, toward the end of the show—and the beginning of their relationship—Cathy may be wearing something of Jamie’s that he had been wearing at the start of the production.

“I’ve needed to recognize that the characters are young artists and not necessarily rich people,” Darrow said. “So they are going to be wearing repeat outfits, just like college students do.”

The Last Five Years runs from Nov. 12 to Nov. 23. Click here for more information on tickets and show times.