PITTSBURG — Relationships don’t always end happily ever after in the real world, and Pittsburg Community Theatre is bringing that theme to the stage with “The Last 5 Years.”
The musical is focuses on the five year marriage of Cathy and Jamie as they go from meeting to break up — and back again. “The Last 5 Years” is the first performance in PCT’s “After Dark” series, which aims to focus on realistic, adult shows.
“PCT is for the community, and it has done a lot of things for families and filled a need there, as well as shows for young children and filled a need there,” Director and Musical Director Mary Jo Harper said. “But there is a lot of adult talent in the community, and this series allows those performers to shine, maybe more so, than some of the more family oriented, big-cast performances.”
Harper said “The Last 5 Years” isn’t beyond what would be a PG-13 rating, but does have some mature language and mature themes.
And it does allow adult talent to shine. Kristina Cullison and Mason Bayliss — who play Cathy and Jamie, respectively — have powerful voices and great chemistry on-stage. Both said being an adult show and having a small cast drew them to audition.
“This show is kind of once-in-a-lifetime here,” Bayliss said. “There aren’t as many opportunities to do a show with a small cast that’s more intimate like this.”
While both leads interact with a small ensemble cast, only Bayliss and Cullison speak and sing throughout the play. The story is told almost completely in song through the characters’ perspectives.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but we’re both really comfortable alone onstage, as well as together,” Bayliss said. “And the ensemble has been great to interact with and made it so easy.”
Cullison said the uniqueness of the musical also drew her in.
“Something that is novel about this play is we break the fourth wall a lot,” she said. “We get to move around offstage and interact with the audience as well.”
The unique plot also drew Harper to choose this play for the first “After Dark” performance. Throughout the story, Cathy moves backwards through the relationship, while Jamie moves forward. The two characters collide at their wedding and pass through to show the other’s side of previous interactions.
“I didn’t even realize it was a timeline switch until about the third time I had listened to the performance,” Harper said. “When it hit me, it was like this wave because of the genius of Jason Robert Brown — the writer.”
That added artistic element makes for an interesting take on a very powerful subject. The performance feels very different from the usual production put on by PCT — both with merit.
Performances of “The Last 5 Years” start at 8:30 p.m. October 5 through 7 at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets for the show are $8 for general admission balcony seating, or $10 and $12 for main floor reserved seating. They can be purchased at www.memorialauditorium.org and the box office at 503 N. Pine, or by calling 620-231-7817.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.