The Main St. Tavern is getting ready for their newest show in Montevallo–“The Last Five Years.” It was written by Jason Robert Brown, who based the play off of his own life experiences.
“The Last Five Years” is about a couple, Jamie and Cathy, who work through their relationship throughout the course of five years. Jamie is a Jewish man whom his family believes is married to a “shiksha,” Cathy.
Brandon Caruthers, a Montevallo student, said a shiksha is an old Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman coaxing a good Jewish man away from good Jewish women. Caruthers, Jewish himself, will play the role of Jamie.
In many ways he feels he is similar to his character. “We are both very extroverted, we are both Jews that come from overbearing mothers and we are both writers,” said Caruthers.
Jamie’s life in this show is also similar to Caruthers’ experiences with past hardships. “I never actually got married to my ‘Cathy,’ but I went through exactly what he went through. I’m a Jewish male who fell in love with a ‘shiksha.’”
Caruthers said he now has a greater appreciation, as an actor, for those past hardships and joys. He now uses those memories to portray and live as Jamie onstage.
This musical is being directed by Montevallo student Jenna McCown, who has loved the show since her junior year in high school.
“I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. There was one friend in particular who absolutely loved the music and the story, and I guess it was personal for her,” said McCown.
After her friend passed away, the show became more personal and meaningful for McCown. She said it is amazing that she gets to share this opportunity with her close friends, Caruthers and Mary Kate McLauren, who plays Cathy.
McCown and Caruthers said they enjoyed the show for the realism in its central theme.
“They are just real people going through real problems and trying to figure out a way to get out of them,” said McCown.
Caruthers said, “Love stories happen, but they don’t always end beautifully. One person is not always at fault. It takes two people working hard and both wanting the same thing for a relationship to work, and sometimes you just don’t get it.”
McCown said the show is not the usual run-of-the-mill show you would find in Montevallo. The show is not only a production, but also a dinner theatre. Audiences will get to enjoy a dinner with the actors as the play takes place in Main Street Tavern.
“We chose the Tavern because it is so confined, and it’s all wood so it is good for vocal acoustics. You really connect to all of the actors in this confined space,” said McCown.
McCown said she wants to send a special “thank you” to Korey Wilson, who was their producer and a key factor in making this production happen from the very beginning. AWK Production company was the original sponsor for this show, but a mistake lead to AWK pulling away from the production.
Wilson, who is also the current president of AWK, said he misinterpreted section C and H (pg. 73-74) of the Fledgling Student Handbook in concerns with on campus organizations.
The Fledgling basically states no on campus organization can hold an open event with an alcohol distributor. Student Life and Student Affairs considers the Tavern an alcohol distributor.
Wilson said he didn’t want to make this musical a closed event because theatrical productions are meant to be open to the public, so the Main St. Tavern is now sponsoring the production.
For those who reserved tickets, there is no need to worry. The ticket reservations are still valid, and the show will go on.
“I would like to thank Student Life and Student Affairs for their help in this matter and would like to apologize for my reckless governance as current president of AWK,” said Wilson.
“Let this be a lesson to any on campus organization that believes they can surpass or transcend the guidelines set by Student Life,” said Wilson in warning to others in any similar position.
Those involved in the show are looking forward to performing: “We are getting to discover, as seniors, this is how the real world works and this is what we can do to get into our actual career. It’s like there is actual hope in the future for us. This production shows us we can make it in the real world doing this,” said Caruthers.
McCown and Caruthers have learned a lot from working on this show together. Caruthers said he learned that theatre will always be a great tool for coping and facing his pain head-on and getting through it.
McCown said she also took away wisdom—one bad thing in life won’t make life unbearable forever. “When you lose something, it is not the end of the world. There is never an end, really. It ends in order to begin,” said McCown.
“The Last Five Years” will make its debut in the Main Street Tavern on Sept. 12–14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 each, including dinner. For more information on this production, contact the Main Street Tavern.