2002-03-26
The Dallas Morning News (WFAA)
Lawson Taitte

The buzz about The Last Five Years has been humming for years. Jason Robert Brown was writing a musical about the breakup of his marriage – a "divorcical," as it was known on the street.

The show got great reviews in Chicago, but its progress to Lincoln Center was impeded by a lawsuit launched by Mr. Brown’s ex-wife. Finally it opened at a small off-Broadway house.

It’s probably the best new musical New York will see all season.

Norbert Leo Butz (Thou Shalt Not) and Sherie Rene Scott (Aida ) alternate songs for 90 minutes. He’s going forward in time, she backward. She complains of his endless self-involvement. He blames the marriage’s failure on her jealousy of his success and her own tentativeness about her career.

Mr. Brown’s songs traverse a huge stylistic range, from pop and early rock to klezmer and near-operatic complexity. The performers are terrific, and the composer himself leads the six-piece band that includes enough strings to make the accompaniment sometimes sound like chamber music.

This time Mr. Brown has created a story that a lot of people will identify with and given it music that is at once challenging and accessible.

Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane (off-Broadway). $20 to $60. Ticketmaster.


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