The Last Five Years // Gold Coast Little Theatre

Review by Jake Goodall

Gold Coast Little Theatre’s (GCLT) stunning production of The Last Five years is nothing short of a hit! This theatre nestled in the heart of Southport continues to create superb performances, and their recent production is no different!

Directed by Artistic Director Amy-Louise Anderson, GCLT’s The Last Five Years is a spectacle from top to bottom. This famous one act written by Jason Robert-Brown is well known within the musical theatre community and has captivated audiences around the globe with its hard hitting music and emotional writing since it’s debut in 2002.

The Last Five Years follows Cathy, a struggling actress and Jamie, a novelist about to have his big break. This unconventional show tells the story two ways: Cathy tells it backwards whilst Jamie tells it chronologically with the two characters only meeting and interacting once at their wedding at the half way point in the show.

Directed by Amy-Louse Anderson, this production is stunning from the first down beat to the last note. Intricately creating this New York apartment, Anderson’s direction brings out every emotion in this story. Working with skilled actors is a fantastic experience, however having to direct this intertwining story is no easy feat and Anderson does this effortlessly and professionally. Anderson’s clever direction facilitates the audience’s smooth journey between multiple settings and times.

Image Credit: TTL Photography

The Musical Direction by Michelle Watkins is nothing sort of brilliant, leading a talented three-piece band comprised of Lawrie Esmond on Guitar/Keyboard, Rodrigo Machado on Bass Guitar and Jem Nicholls on Percussion/Guitar. It’s fantastic to see a live band at Gold Coast theatres after the devastating effects of the pandemic. Watkins should be highly commended for continuing to set the bar for live bands in the Gold Coast theatre scene.

The Vocal Direction by David Willis really elevates this experience and brings the music life. The vocals were simply flawless. Willis’s guidance ensures the perfect placement of notes and protects their vocal chords (especially with the extensive, and constant belting!)

The Set Design by Amy-Louse Anderson and Kim Reynolds is like something out of a story book. Utilisng three tiered levels, the set ingeniously portrays a bohemian artist’s loft with aesthetic plants, piles of books and abstract art. The set perfectly complements the themes of the show.

The Lighting Design by Jamie Watt enhances the emotions throughout the production. Bright white light is used effectively to bring the audience back to the happy moments of Jamie and Cathy’s relationship. In contrast, dark blue and purple lighting schemes helps to convey the darker moments.

Performing on opening night was Jamie Watt (Jamie) and Heidi Enchelmaier (Cathy), GCLT’s production features two casts performing on alternating nights providing two distinctly different interpretations of this same story. Leading the alternate cast is Flynn Anderson (Jamie) and Susannah Kwan (Cathy).

Jamie Watt not only shares the same name as their character, but embodies Jamie to the nines. Watt portrays this talented writer’s painful journey with grace and respect. Jamie’s descent into despair after cheating on Cathy feels hauntingly authentic. Watt is a well known name in Gold Coast theatre and it is superb to have them back on the stage telling this story.

Image Credit: TTL Photography

Enchelmaier’s Cathy is heart-wrenching from their famous opening number ‘Still Hurting,’ to their closing number ‘Goodbye Until Tomorrow.’ Enchelmaier unique edginess enhances Cathy’s interesting connection to Jamie. It truly creates a beautiful, authentic relationship between these performers which can be seen both in and out of character. Enchelmaier’s extensive tertiary training is clear in their talented portrayal of Cathy.

Overall, Gold Coast Little Theatre’s The Last Five Years is a smash hit and a stunning opening production for their 2023 season. This fun yet sombre representation of toxic relationships is poignant and perfect for this day and age. All that’s left to say is BRAVO!

The Last Five Years is on stage until Saturday 18th of February 2023 at Gold Coast Little Theatre. This show is sure to sell quick, so book your tickets and don’t miss out!

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