Ghostlight Theatre Company's humble and poignant debut
Following a year of overwhelming darkness in theatres across the nation and the world, artists are finally treading the boards again. For some, this time has meant a homecoming of sorts; a returning to the familiar ways of before with new eyes. For others, including those at Ghostlight Theatre Company, this has been a renaissance of new creation. The company's inaugural production of Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years had a limited in-person run in late February and is now available for streaming online through March 21st at 7:30PM.
JRB's popular piece follows Cathy and Jamie's romantic relationship from first date to last lines, with Jamie's story beginning at the start and Cathy's at the end. The show is comprised of solos with the two characters only meeting in "real time" for a brief, sweet moment before intermission.
Real life couple Kathryn Flynn and Joseph Gallo play Cathy and Jamie respectively. Director David Pesci brings out the best of comedy in the duo, with Gallo blossoming in Act II opening "A Miracle Would Happen" and Flynn stealing the spotlight in upbeat number after number. Flynn shows off a delightful upper register during romantic interludes, which raises the question as to why grace notes were provided by musical director Joshua Parman during climactic moments for the character. However, Flynn powers through the adjusted score and provides the fire that Cathy brings to the relationship - both in passion and in provocation.
Kathryn Flynn as Cathy. All photos by Christine Clementi.
Gallo leans into the villainy of Jamie. When the tides turn for the couple, they turn fast. The choice, although perhaps pushing a decidedly pro-Cathy take on the script, fits in the greater arc he performs. His nerdy character is especially endearing during Act I, and the writer feels familiar and real through this interpretation. Gallo's pitch warms up as the show goes on, and once through some rougher patches, finds some real sweet spots in later numbers. He shines in the goofy yet tender "Schmuel Song".
Joseph Gallo as Jamie.
The unsung stars of this performance are the orchestra. There is not one sour note to be caught amongst the small but mighty team of six musicians. Jason Robert Brown is known for many things, but simple accompaniments are the least of these. You'd never know it when listening to this company. The live performance is nothing less than cast album quality.
Joseph Gallo and Kathryn Flynn in The Last 5 Years.
In The Last 5 Years, Ghostlight Theatre Company team provides a cool drink of water in the artistic drought that COVID has brought. By choosing a two-person show comprised of individual scenes and moments, the artistic team has to make very few concessions to their storytelling in order to remain safe. Then, the characters themselves are artists navigating the complexity of their fields. The result is warm to the heart of any creative type missing the "before times".
If you are interested in learning more about Ghostlight Theatre Company or purchasing tickets to watch the virtual stream of The Last 5 Years, you can find the group on Facebook as "Ghostlight Theatre Co."