The Last Five Years have been both terrible and wonderful for a star crossed pair of lovers. That’s the general idea behind the show “The Last Five Years” which premieres Friday, May 7, at the Cheyenne Little Theatre’s Atlas Theater downtown. The musical tells the story of Jamie and Cathy. They meet, fall in love, get married, and then break up after five years.
But the show is told in an unusual fashion. Cathy starts the show at the end of the relationship, singing about the breakup, and then moves back in time to the beginning. Jamie starts right after their first date, with all of the excitement and possibilities of the new relationship.
“What creates the interest in the piece, it did for me anyways, is the unconventional structure of it. Cathy’s story starts at the end, so the very first song she sings is the breakup song,” said Todd Martin, the director of the show.
The two actors are not on stage together, other than during their wedding, which takes place in the middle of the show. Peter Kisiel, who plays Jamie, said that posed some challenges because the actors can’t react to what other performers are doing.
“You have to feel where they would be at, what they would be doing in that song, and have that same reaction without that other person being there,” Kisiel said.
“I think the challenge is just making sure you’re focusing on the other character and telling that story even though they’re not actually there. So you have to be able to know what your character wants and what that other character wants without them actually being onstage with you,” Jones added.
Despite the fact that the marriage doesn’t work out, Martin said it is not a sad show.
“Because it ends in two different ways. As an audience member, you see at the end of the play, you’re seeing both the beginning of the relationship and the end of the relationship at the same time. It keeps it from becoming a heartbreaker type story. It keeps a real balance of the good times of the relationship and the more difficult times, with the way it moves back and forth,” said Martin.
There are about 20 songs in the show. The stage is kept bare, but stagehands bring different props in and out for each song. With limited space in the Atlas, it made moving around backstage almost like a game of Jenga.
“We’ve got five different settings that have a table, and it has to be the appropriate table. It has to be a dining room table or it has to be restaurant table. The stage is really sparse but backstage is really crowded,” Martin said.
The Cheyenne Little Theatre is operating under Covid restrictions. Patrons will be asked to wear masks in the lobby and common areas, but can remove them once at their seats. There will also be dinner theaters available for five performances, and two performances will be live streamed.
“I just feel really, really blessed that we get to perform during the pandemic because the play only consists of two characters and we’re not really onstage for that long. We’re actually able to have a play because we’re able to social distance,” Jones said.
Tickets are available through the Cheyenne Little Theatre’s website at www.CheyenneLittleTheatre.org.