Caroline Stuart to present thesis show: “The Last Five Years”

Caroline Stuart, music major, presents her thesis show on October 7th in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.
Caroline Stuart, music major, presents her thesis show on October 7th in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Photo by Rachel Britt.

It’s a story of boy meets girl but not without its fair share of heartache and laughter. “The Last Five Years” is a musical composed by Tony Award winning Jason Robert Brown, and senior Caroline Stuart has chosen this piece as her thesis.

“This show is different from any other music major produced show, and I really want to share my passion for this musical with the entire campus,” said Stuart.

“This is a brilliant piece that can relate to everybody because there’s a little bit of both characters in everyone.”

The show is told through the two perspectives of Cathy and Jamie, a young married couple from New York City.

Through the journey from the start to the finish of their relationship, the audience comes to know intimate and perspective details about the characters, and through the beauty of the way the show is written, each audience member will develop strong and personal feelings for the characters.

“On the surface level you might side with either Cathy or Jamie, but there’s a part of each character within you,” said Stuart. “This show is really an example of a toxic relationship, with perspectives from both sides told in and out of order.”

The show is written to truly immerse the audience into the individual characters, and through Stuart’s and director Alan Eleazer’s design, the show’s production value is unlike any other show produced for a music major thesis.

“I really had to fight to get this show approved. Because it’s musical theatre, people don’t really understand it or truly value it as it should be. I’m hoping my thesis show will be a way to start a change on this campus, and at least get people thinking about a potential degree in musical theatre,” said Stuart.

From a technical view, the show is designed to immerse the audience through projections and videos to bring the small space into the world of Cathy and Jamie.

“Rather than it being a show on a blank stage, I’m really trying to bring the audience into the realm, so they’re there instead of just watching it,” said Stuart.

The show is written so the characters are almost never on stage at same time and tell their sides of the relationship in different orders. Through this unconventional way, the motives and priorities of the characters are revealed to the audience.

“We’ve designed the show based on my personal perception of the characters, so Cathy is how I see her,” said Stuart.

Austin Loo, senior, plays opposite Stuart as Jamie, and one of their more memorable moments from rehearsal came from one of their first duets with accompanist Dr. Christy Lee.

“It moved me to tears,” said Stuart of the first time they sang together. “The moment our voices became one, the characters became one and it was proof to me that I could really go through with this. This became my motivation.”

While a thesis project can often bring a student to grow tired of their topic, Stuart has found the exact opposite of hers.
“Everyday I get more passion to continue doing it and every time I sing it I learn something new from it. My passion to share it with other people is so that other people can see how brilliant it is and how much this show needs to be appreciated,” said Stuart.

Stuart’s show will hopefully spark the beginning of more musical theatre on campus. She hopes a large part of the student body will attend her show to experience not only the hard work the cast and crew have put in but also the beauty of the piece itself.

     “The Last Five Years” will be held in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. On Oct. 7 the house will open at 5:30, and a short reception following the performance will be held in the lobby.

Austin Loo, left, and Caroline Stuart, right, play the the trials and triumphs of a New York romance in the musical The Last Five Years.
Austin Loo, left, and Caroline Stuart, right, play the the trials and triumphs of a New York romance in the musical The Last Five Years. Photo by Rachel Britt.

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