‘The Last Five Years’ charts rocky relationship in song

From left, Josh Dinan (Jamie) and Candice Castro (Cathy) act out a scene from “The Last Five Years” at the Kent County Theatre Guild in Dover. In the show, the two alternate songs with Jamie singing his experience in the relationship from beginning to end, while Cathy sings of her experience from the end to beginning, with their stories overlapping in the middle for a wedding song. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

DOVER — “The Last Five Years,” a musical that takes an intimate look at the ups and downs of a five-year relationship, takes the stage at the Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse starting Friday night.

Featuring only two actors, the show is the smallest musical that Kevin Smith has ever directed.

Mr. Smith had wanted to do one of the pieces by writer, Jason Robert Brown, for quite some time.

“I like that he’s a modern writer and he’s written a lot of interesting things, and I wanted to bring one of his works to the stage here,” he said.

With a show that features only two actors, casting is key and Mr. Smith went into auditions with an open mind.

“We asked everyone to bring a song and a monologue, neither from the show. And after callbacks, the musical director and I talked and decided on the two we thought would fit the roles best,” he said.

Candice Castro landed the role of Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress, while Josh Dinan plays Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist. By chance, the two had worked together just last summer in “Shrek” at Milford’s Second Street Players.

“I was excited to work with Josh because we had a great time with ‘Shrek’ and it’s always fun working with someone you know and are comfortable with,” Ms. Castro said.

In the show, Josh Dinan plays Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist.

Despite “The Last Five Years” featuring just the two of them, there isn’t much interaction between the characters during the show.

The two alternate songs with Jamie singing his experience in the relationship from beginning to end, while Cathy sings of her experience from the end to beginning, with their stories overlapping in the middle for a wedding song.

“It’s interesting because I’m playing opposite Cathy but it’s just me on stage alone a lot of the time. Or she might be on the stage with me but there’s little direct interaction,” Mr. Dinan said.

Both actors came into rehearsal already knowing the music, even though this is not a musical most people have heard of.

“I listened to the soundtrack for years because my old voice teacher used a lot of these songs and I’ve always really enjoyed the music,” Mr. Dinan said. “I came in knowing every word of each character’s songs.”

While both actors knew the score, the musical director, Chris Patterson, has been working with them on small tweaks, but mostly putting emotion into the lyrics.

“It can be hard singing a song to someone, but not really to them. So a lot of the story comes through with the emotions the actors portray through song,” Mr. Patterson said. “But it hasn’t been really difficult work because they are such great actors and singers.”

Kent County Theatre Guild actors Josh Dinan (Jamie) and Candice Castro (Cathy) rehearse for “Five Days After” at the Patchwork Playhouse in Dover.

With all the singing and acting falling on only two people, it can be an exhausting show to pull off.

“You definitely need a lot of stamina to keep performing at a high level from beginning to end,” Ms. Castro said. “The show does seem to go quickly, but by the end, you’re just very drained.”

Although it’s difficult work, the pair seem to be pulling it off.

“This show requires a lot of dedication and the actors have to be very motivated, which in this case, we were lucky enough to pick actors that have the exact dedication and willingness to face a challenge,” Mr. Smith said.

The show runs today and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and May 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online at kctg.org.

The Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 Roosevelt Ave. in Dover.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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