Of course I had to see The Last 5 Years. After what I saw Joaquin Valdes achieve with Red; I thought it would be great to see him in a musical. I heard a lot of good things about the songs of The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown, but I was still a bit skeptical, since I haven’t really been impressed by the songs of a musical since, I don’t know, Maury Yeston’s Titanic, maybe? Maybe Ragtime by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. And that was a very, very long time ago.
But I had to see Joaquin perform, and I had to support 9 Works Theatrical’s production because my good friend Toff is part of 9 Works and it is really a big part of my continuing education in the theatre which has become my new love, for the meantime.
I feel, though, now that I’ve been reading a whole lot of plays and theatre with my reading group and I’ve been watching more and more plays and musicals and having in-depth discussions about the theatre with my friends, I’ve become more and more discerning and more aware of certain things.
I didn’t like this production as much as I wanted to. First of all, I had difficulty with the material. I didn’t love all the songs like people said I would and that’s important because there’s nothing else in the script but the songs. It’s just song after song after song and so, if you don’t like the songs, you sort of lose your first connection with the play. There’s nothing else to really move it along. No dialogue or anything of the sort. The songs tell the story.
Lucky for 9 Works Theatrical that The Last 5 Years had to really good performers in Nikki Gil and Joaquin Valdes. And while I had issues with a lot of Nikki Gil’s interpretation of the material (which was a directorial error and not Nikki’s), Joaquin’s performance was flawless. I really can’t say anything more, because Joaquin is a friend and I might seem biased but he really got it and even if the song wasn’t that great, he made it work because he was acting the shit out of it while singing the hell out of those songs. I was so impressed.
Read my full review of it here: The Last 5 Years: An Inevitable Loss.
Even if I do have my share of caveats, I am still so glad that such a challenging and difficult piece was staged and the fact that the show was sold out in the last three weekends show that there is a market for intelligent work to be produced here. I’m thankful that we are maturing our output as much as there is an audience for it. It can only be better for everyone in the process. I’m happy about that.