A tale of two lovebirds

By Jazelle Artman 

University Theatre kicks off the spring semester with its first show of the semester called “The Last Five Years.” 

“The Last Five Years” was written by James Robert Brown and premiered in 2001 at Chicago’s Northlight Theatre. 

The musical will feature two Youngstown State University students. Sophomore musical theatre major, Lauren Ladd as Cathy Hyatt — a struggling actress — and senior theatre major, Mitchell Sharp as Jamie Wellerstein — a novelist. Ladd said the musical is a story about a five-year relationship that dives into struggles and obstacles that real-life couples may face. 

“‘The Last Five Years’ is a story of two lovebirds who go in way too fast and develop this very toxic attachment to each other. Throughout the course of the musical, Cathy goes backwards in the timeline and Jamie goes forwards in the timeline, explaining how the relationship came to be and how it ended,” Ladd said.

Sharp said the musical allows anyone that has been in a relationship to relate to the characters’ stories and songs. 

“It has to do with falling in and out of love, cheating, the struggles of getting married, having that temptation of other women around you and past emotions,” Sharp said. 

YSU’s Department of Theater and Dance’s faculty determines what the theater will show each semester. Matthew Mazuroski, an associate professor of acting and directing, was selected by his colleagues to direct the musical.

“They asked me to direct because it’s very nuanced [and] intricate. It’s not like your standard musical. When you think of musicals you think of Disney and that kind of thing,” Mazuroski said. “This is very much a psychological journey. They wanted to make sure that someone could help the students unlock the potential of the material that was at the helm.”

Mazuroski said that the musical reminds us that not all relationships are meant to be and that some breakups can be a good thing. 

“Everyone who is watching this has had a relationship that has gone south. But, it starts out with such promise, such hope and such possibility. But ultimately, you may find out that you’re just not compatible. You’re just not on the same path,” Mazuroski said. 

Although Ladd and Sharp have performed in previous shows at YSU, both said they were ecstatic to receive their roles. 

“It’s definitely a challenging role, both acting and vocally. It’s always nice to have a challenge and it’s an amazing part to be able to portray and sing through. I definitely love this show. It leans more into the realistic side of emotions,” Sharp said. 

The role of Cathy Hyatt has been eagerly anticipated for Ladd. Ladd said this has been a dream role for as long as she can remember. 

“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it when I found out for the first time that I was casted as Kathy, but I am so incredibly excited and I just cannot wait,” Ladd said. 

“The Last Five Years” will be showing at Spotlight Arena Theater from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on tix.com or at the door. For more information, call (330) 727-7514.