DECATUR — Couples go through struggles and challenges, no matter what personalities and genders make up the duo.
The cast of Millikin University’s Pipe Dreams Theatre “The Last Five Years” have filmed three different versions of the musical. One show, the Diamond cast, features a male and a female in the lead roles as the married couple. It will be available for viewing on April 16 through 18.
The tickets to view each show online is available through the Pipe Dreams Theatre website.
The story, written by Jason Robert Brown, is about a married couple, Jamie and Cathy. “She’s moving backwards in the relationship and he’s moving forwards,” said Millikin senior Will Koski.
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The audience watches the relationship from start to end over five years, according to Grace Newton, Millikin senior.
The three casts portray each character. The names and story stay the same, although the actors are different.
“That’s a cool, new concept that we did,” said Joel Ochoa, Millikin junior.
The diverse cast was an idea created from the Pipe Dreams production team. “There’s two Cathys and two Jamies, but three shows,” Newton said.
The story and music use the same words in each show. The pronouns and labels, such as wife and he/she, remain the same; however, the gender of the actor may be the opposite of the role.
“Having the different casts just creates a whole different story,” Ochoa said. “We all bring such a different perspective to each of our characters.”
The shows were filmed on the Pipe Dreams Theatre stage. “It was like filming a television show or a movie,” Koski said. “We got to play around a lot with how the shots were set up.”
As a musical, no dialogue is spoken.
“It has it’s light moments,” Newton said. “The show does a really good job of balancing humor and grief and loss.”
“The Last Five Years” has adult content. “Kids wouldn’t understand it,” Ochoa said. “Honestly, sometimes I didn’t understand it. And we’re college kids.”
The cast describe the songs for the show as contemporary musical theater. Music includes numbers such as “Moving Too Fast,” “I Can Do Better Than That” and “Summer in Ohio.”
“It’s very story-driven,” Newton said.
“A lot of the songs have contemporary music elements,” Koski said.
Although the actors are being educated in musical theater, they understand COVID has changed their industry, including auditions as well as performances.
“This year we’ve had to video everything,” Newton said. “It’s a valuable skill and I’m sure it’s going to serve me well in the future.”
“But it’s been a great experience,” Koski said.
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR