Tag Archives: Jason Robert Brown


Filmed during the first UK lockdown, entirely in isolation and on the artists smart phones, Séimí Campbell directs Rachel John (Hamilton), Ramin Karimloo (Phantom of The Opera), Cedric Neal (Motown) and Rachel Tucker (Come From Away), and introducing Shem Omari James, with musical supervision by Adam Hoskins, musical direction from Josh Winstone and video editing by Danny Kaan

“It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice… or take a stand… or turn around and go back.”  

Written by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown and sitting between musical and song cycle, this moving collection of powerful songs examines life, love, and the choices that we make as it transports audiences through time and space. This topical piece is an examination of a defining moment in history, a reflection of the state of the world in the Summer of 2020.

Rachel John plays Woman 1. Her previous theatre credits include Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre), The Color Purple – In Concert (Cadogan Hall), The Bodyguard (Dominion Theatre/UK tour), Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre), Rent (UK tour), We Will Rock You, Sister Act (London Palladium) and The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre/international tour).  

Ramin Karimloo plays Man 2. His previous concert credits for Lambert Jackson Productions include Dr Zhivago (Cadogan Hall). His other theatre credits include Chess in Concert (Umeda Arts Theatre), Jesus Christ Superstar in ConcertEvita (Theatre Orb Tokyo), Chess (The Kennedy Centre), Anastasia (Broadhurst Theatre), Murder Ballad (Arts Theatre), Les Miserables (Imperial Theatre/Princess of Wales Theatre/Queens Theatre/Palace Theatre), The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary (Royal Albert Hall), Love Never Dies (Adelphi Theatre), Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert (O2 Arena), The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre) and Miss Saigon (UK tour).  

Cedric Neal plays Man 1. His previous theatre credits include Back To The Future (Manchester Opera House), The View Upstairs (Soho Theatre), Stagger Lee, Death of a Salesman (Dallas Theater Center), Porgy and Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), and Dreamgirls (Signature Theatre). His credits for television include Friday Night Lights and The Good Guys 

Rachel Tucker plays Woman 2. Her previous theatre credits include Come From Away (Phoenix Theatre), Wicked (Apollo Victoria/The Gershwin Theater), Communicating Doors (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Last Ship (Neil Simon Theatre), Farragut North (Southwark Playhouse), We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Dusty (Leicester Square Theatre), The Wizard of OzTo Be SureMerry Christmas Betty Ford (Belfast Lyric Theatre), Tonight’s The NightTommy and The Full Monty (UK tour).  

Shem Omari James plays Steam Train. Shem is a recent graduate and appeared in the London Palladium production of Songs For a New World in October 2020. 

Séimí Campbell directs. His previous credits include My Son Pinocchio (Southwark Playhouse). As an assistant director his credits include Come From Away (Phoenix Theatre) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); and as resident director credits include Amour (Charing Cross Theatre), Cereal Café (The Other Palace) and Sweeney Todd (Shoreditch Town Hall). 


stream.theatre FROM 21 FEBRUARY 2021 

MOVIE REVIEW: The Last 5 Years

This article was originally written for and published  by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/film-review-the-last-five-years/

There’s no doubt that it is with a mixture of trepidation and as well as anticipation that fans of Jason Robert Brown’s little seen but much-loved, cult, off-Broadway hit, The Last Five Years, will greet the release of Richard LaGravenese’s movie adaptation: what works on stage can often be a damn sight trickier to pull off on screen.

The emotional two-hander charts the disintegration of the relationship of Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) and Cathy (Anna Kendrick), two New Yorkers with big ambitions: his to be a successful novelist, hers, a Broadway star. Its unique take on the typical relationship tale being that the duo’s stories are told in reverse: Jamie’s from optimistic start to end, Cathy’s from agonising end to start, the pair only meeting onstage briefly in the middle, at their wedding.

As Kendrick’s first notes ring out on the show’s most famous, and arguably best song, the heartbreaking “I’m Still Hurting”, you know that, in vocal terms at least, Brown’s cherished work is in safe hands. What is less certain is if newcomers to the musical will pick up on the converging timelines, unlike the stage musical, the pair share the screen in almost every scene, indeed, the penny may only fully drop for many at the very end when Jamie writes the letter we see Cathy reading in the first moments of the movie.

What this screen adaptation does do that the stage can’t, is give full life to the relationship build up and break down, fleshing out the back story, providing atmosphere and life, and it manages, save for a minuscule on-street dance sequence, to keep it very real and resonant. It is a welcome addition to the movie musical theatre library, providing as it does a more relatable work for the contemporary audience.

There’s no trickery in LaGravenese’s direction, it is simplistic, more hand-held camera, docu-drama than glossy Hollywood musical, and though this may be due to necessity because of its small budget, a glitzier approach just would not have worked with this material. The reality is also enhanced greatly as the whole thing is filmed entirely on location.

Both Kendrick and Jordan are deserving of praise, you would be hard pressed to find a pair more suited to the roles, and the Tony Award-nominated duo will certainly win favour with musical theatre purists. The witty, melodic songs are given full justice by both leads, but it is Kendrick’s portrayal of Cathy that garners the greatest sympathy: as Jamie is wined and dined, fawned and feted over, she struggles from one unsuccessful audition to the next, his ebullience and soaring ambition in contrast to her frustration, as she increasingly becomes a bystander in their relationship: there’s an inevitability that Cathy was always going to be the one left behind. It is to Brown’s great credit that he manages to successfully convey the female perspective so strongly and resist the urge to excuse Jamie’s descent into adultery.

This painful depiction of a relationship will strike a chord with many and the film remains an affecting piece of work but it never fully captures the onstage emotion and the visceral experience of being in the same room, watching these two people sing their hearts out. Some of the clarity of the stage production is lost in the shared screen time, but existing fans will find much to admire and it might just get some non-fans to look at movie musicals in a new light.

What this movie adaptation does do though, is cement Jason Robert Brown’s place as the rightful successor to his hero Stephen Sondheim.

The Last Five Years was released in the US on 13 February 2015  and will be released in the UK in June

REVIEW: The Last Five Years – Govanhill Baths, Glasgow

You would be hard pressed to find a more sure-footed staging of Jason Robert Brown‘s eloquent, emotive and rarely staged musical, The Last Five Years than that from Mad Props Theatre presented in the atmospheric surroundings of the former ‘Steamie’ of Glasgow’s Edwardian Govanhill Baths.

last 5 mad props

The story of the five year relationship of Jamie, a writer whose star is on the rise and Cathy, a struggling actress, it is distinguished from its musical theatre peers by its structure; presented as opposing timelines, Jamie’s story moves chronologically from the couple’s first meeting and charts his rise a novelist and the disintegration of the relationship, whilst Cathy’s moves backwards from the end. The pair only meet briefly in the middle of the musical when their timelines intersect at their wedding.

last five years 2

This fluent production has a resonance and poignancy that speaks powerfully to anyone who has ever experienced the breakdown of a relationship and it is deftly handled by director Marc MacKinnon who keeps interest levels high and the action moving on apace (indeed the production feels as if it has gone by in the blink of an eye). The staging in the derelict former wash-house adds greatly to the viewing experience with its exposed brick, air-conditioning ducts and multi-tiered scaffolding and represents perfectly the shabby New York apartment of the young couple: we are there, in the moment with Cathy and Jamie, feeling every moment of joy and pain on their emotional journey.

the last five years

Brown’s music is a veritable smorgasbord of musical styles from rock and pop via Klezmer, jazz and folk: you really have to tip your hat to a man who can include strippers and snakes, Doritos and Limbovitch in his lyrics with ease and the fifteen songs are a perfect balance of humour and heartache.

The incredibly talented pair carrying the weight of the show on their shoulders (Imogen Parry and Sam Willison) are entirely believable as Cathy and Jamie, and each is in possession of a fine voice, Parry is particularly effective in conveying Cathy’s endless frustrations at her career and the profoundly upsetting unravelling of her relationship. Credit too, must go to musical director Paul Slevin for managing to make a single piano sound like a whole band.

last 5

The Last Five Years is a creative re-telling of a much explored theme and Mad Props Theatre more than live up to their reputation as the classiest amateur theatre group in Glasgow with this production. Do yourself a favour and catch it if you can.

View the production in rehearsal at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMU0ExXnAiw

REVIEW: Edinburgh Fringe – Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre present 13 by Jason Robert Brown, C Venue C

This post was originally written for and published  by The Public Reviews

Book: Dan Elish and Robert Horn

Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

Director: Richard Poynton

Musical Director: David Easto

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

12 year old Evan Goldman is having a difficult time – his parents are in the midst of a divorce and his all-important Bar Mitzvah is looming. To make matters worse his mother announces they are leaving their life in New York for the quiet town of Appleton, Indiana.

Part of the Fringe experience is searching for a star of the future, but this reviewer didn’t think it would come in the form of a kid playing a 12 year old on the eve of his Bar Mitzvah. The maturity and surety of touch that Tom Slade brings to the role of Evan in Jason Robert Brown’s 13, is a jaw-dropping joy to watch. His subtly nuanced performance would put many adult actors to shame. This combined with a clear as a bell tenor voice makes him a sure fire star. The rest of Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre don’t disappoint either, bringing this Tony Award-winning show to Edinburgh with a professionalism that belies their years. In particular, Holly Musgrave delivers a performance of such sensitivity and strength as girl next door Patrice, that she elicits roars from the crowd after every song.

This rites of passage musical follows the usual themes: new kid in town; the life or death struggle to be cool; falling in love with the right/wrong girl; true friendship; oh, and some degenerative illness used for comic effect. What sets this apart from the run of the mill fare is the quality and wit of Brown’s songwriting and the choreography which is both inventive and varied, utilising perfectly the small space whilst never compromising on quality.

This show is about finding out who you are and what’s really important and it delivers with a punch – a real gem.