Most popular two-character West End musical in town

Ma Yue
The original West End musical "The Last Five Years" is being staged in Shanghai; it's one of the most popular two-character musicals since it premiered back in 2001.
Ma Yue

The original West End musical "The Last Five Years" is being staged at Shanghai Grand Theater's Buick Theater through Sunday.

Written and composed by three-time Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, the musical explores a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress.

It was inspired by Brown's personal story, and has become one of the most popular two-character musicals since its premiere back in 2001.

The two main characters experience the process of their first meeting, falling in love, getting married, quarreling, and eventually divorce. The show uses a form of storytelling in which Jamie's story is told in chronological order, while Cathy's story is told in reverse chronological order.

"The audience can see the story in two timelines and two narrations," said director Jonathan O'Boyle. "The abstract quality of the work makes the performance demanding for the actors, who are on stage through the whole performance which requires certain stamina."

The only scene when the two characters' timeline meet is when they get married, during which the duo gives a dual performance on the piano. In other scenes, when one character is singing, the other one plays the piano on stage.

"Piano is a bridge between the two, which also serves as a third character of the show," explained O'Boyle.

Most popular two-character West End musical in town
Ti Gong

When one character is singing, the other one plays the piano on stage.

Actor Josh Burnett, who plays Jamie, hopes their performance can arouse audiences' own thinking about relationships.

"In the story, Jamie is often considered the 'bad guy' (who ends the relationship). But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango," Burnett noted. "Hope the audience can find sympathy for them, but also form their own opinions of the two characters."

Burnett and Lenny Turner take turns to play Jamie, while SuRie and Stephanie Marion play the role of Cathy. Five musicians provide live music for the performance backstage.

The show will then continue to be performed at Theater YOUNG in Yangpu District from October 18 to 22.

Most popular two-character West End musical in town
Ti Gong

The four performers meet audience members at a pre-show sharing session on Wednesday evening.

Performance info:

Dates: October 12-15, 2pm/7:30pm

Tickets: 180-680 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater 上海大剧院

Address: 300 People's Ave 人民大道300号

Dates: October 18-22, 2pm/7:30pm

Tickets: 180-680 yuan

Venue: Theater YOUNG

Address: 1155 Kongjiang Rd, Yangpu District 杨浦区控江路1155号

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