Anybody who's ever been in a long relationship that ended badly will be able to relate to the Jason Robert Brown musical "The Last Five Years," the Nebraska Wesleyan University Theatre season opener.
Directed by NWU alum Alan Brincks in Miller Theater, the one-act musical chronicles the highs and lows of a five-year relationship between Cathy and Jamie.
NWU students Cherie Ronhovde and Patrick O'Hare sing the leads, with both performing it as a partial fulfillment of their senior theater projects.
Cathy (Ronhovde) tells her story in reverse chronological order, starting with their divorce and ending with the beginning of their relationship, unlike Jamie (O'Hare) who tells his story chronologically.
Their stories intersect during Jamie's marriage proposal in the middle.
Because it's written that way, there were a couple of awkward stage moments.
Most of the musical features solo numbers, with each actor singing/storytelling alone on stage.
But Brincks occasionally put them together, which, unfortunately, lessened the impact of them coming together for the proposal. Odd.
Both Ronhovde and O'Hare were more at ease with the musical's lighter numbers.
O'Hare particularly engaged the audience on the storytelling "The Schmuel Song," showing off a Yiddish-like accent, while Ronhovde excelled at "Climbing Up Hill," a song she performed with a boa.
The slower, sad songs troubled both because they were so difficult to sing. The piano often drowned out Ronhovde on those pieces, while O'Hare struggled with the higher range on "Nobody Needs to Know."
Still, the story came across well, with Ronhovde and O'Hare conveying the intense emotions found in the relationship.