MANILA, Philippines—Director Richard LaGravanese has adapted for the big screen Tony award-winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years,” a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage over a five-year period.
In the musical, Jamie Wellerstein is a young, talented, up-and-coming Jewish novelist who falls in love with Cathy Hiatt, a Shiksa Goddess struggling actress.
Their story is told almost entirely through songs, using an intercutting timeline device. All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backward in time to the beginning of their love affair. Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet at the center when Jamie proposes.
Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick and Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan play Cathy and Jamie, respectively.
Obsession with the album
LaGravenese’s obsession with the play’s album led him to adapting the musical to film. He shared his interest with Kurt Deutsch, cofounder of Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records, and soon they began a five-year partnership to make this dream become a reality.
Brown selected musicians for the orchestra, composed the arrangements and conducted the performances at the prerecording session in March of 2013.
In January 2012, Janet Brenner, theater producer and close friend to LaGravenese, brought in Lauren Versel, a principal in Lucky Monkey Pictures. Versel is an experienced independent-film producer (“City Island,” “Arbitrage”).
Deutsch and LaGravenese partnered with Versel and Brenner, and the producing team was formed.
“The Last Five Years” originally opened off-Broadway in 2002, starring Norbert Leo Butz and Shere Rene Scott.
In the Philippines, it was staged in 2003 by Actor’s Actors Inc., starring Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo; and was staged again in Manila in 2014 by 9 Works Theatrical for the company’s fifth anniversary, starring Nikki Gil and Joaquin Valdes.
From Pioneer Films, “The Last Five Years” will open on Feb. 18.