Blogger for a Day: Art Imitating Life
I typically choose to direct comedies.
I like working on shows that make me laugh out loud every time I thumb through the script. But every now and then, I get inspired by shows that deal with the more 'real' aspects of life. Since it's Valentine's Day, what a perfect time to blog about a show I want to produce called The Last Five Years. It's a 2002 Off-Broadway musical, written by Jason Robert Brown, that tells the story of a five year relationship between Jamie, a rising novelist, and Cathy, a struggling actress. The music is what really catches my attention because it has some really nice guitar playing as well as a large amount of orchestral music.
The cool thing about the show is the way they tell the story. Cathy opens the show by telling her side of the story in reverse chronological order while Jamie tells his side in chronological order. The third number in the show — See I'm Smiling — is my favorite.
Cathy (played by Sherie Rene Scott) is in Ohio when Jamie comes to visit for her birthday while she's working on a show there. She's wanting to fix any problem in their crumbling marriage, but then she gets angry when Jamie reveals he has to go back to New York earlier than planned.
I don't care who you are – straight, gay, bisexual, trisexual – who hasn't been in a similar situation? That's what speaks to me about The Last Five Years – the universality of joys and troubles in love and relationships – and I've had a handful of relationships to find reference points to the themes in the show.
The first guy I ever dated, I thought it was going to last forever.
He was good looking, talented and a senior in college. I was a freshman who recently came out of the closet. He made me laugh and we went out all the time. We even watched all the same TV shows. But after graduation, he wanted to move to Chicago. He moved in with me for about 6 months before he moved – and I honestly thought it would still work despite the distance. I visited him maybe three times before I decided it wasn't working for me – the distance was too much – even though I almost changed my career path so I could move to Chicago to be with him (because maybe getting a nursing degree wouldn't be that bad). I decided to end it all and continue on my own path.
The most recent guy I called "my boyfriend" was a great guy – sweet, athletic and I always had fun spending time with him. But I had a theatre company I wanted to continue growing. I was always doing shows or rehearsing shows or planning on rehearsing shows (not to mention a full-time job), so when we actually spent time together I was always tired. After a few short months of that, we grew apart and I decided it wasn't what I wanted, because what I really wanted was a theatre company that I was proud of and I don't know that he understood what that meant to me.
So here I am, two years later, single and not complaining. Would it be nice to have someone to share my time with – sure. But more than anything, I like being busy. I prefer to have shows to work on. I like working all day and rehearsing all night. That's why I'll continue to drive around listening to my Last Five Years soundtrack and I'll be just fine with the work I do as a theatre workaholic.
We've turned over the Revue blog to local writer, actor, producer and director Stephen Seay. Learn more about him and his prolific theater work in Charlotte here.