State College Community Theatre takes an intimate look in ‘The Last Five Years’

Anna Stanko and James Ruth star in State College Community Theatre’s two-character play “The Last Five Years.”
Anna Stanko and James Ruth star in State College Community Theatre’s two-character play “The Last Five Years.” Photo provided

As we all know, there is always more than one side to every story. In the case of “The Last Five Years,” presented by the State College Community Theatre, there are two sides to the marriage and courtship of Jamie and Cathy.

What’s unique about the story is that is told in opposite directions.

The two-character musical depicts the beginning and end of a beautiful love affair. One character starts at the beginning and goes backward. The second does the opposite. Either way, the story comes alive through the music and lyrics of Jason Robert Brown.

This SCCT production — a 90-minute one-act musical with no intermission — will be performed in the Fairmount Building auditorium and is directed by Erin Coulter.

“I have been directing for 20 years,” she said. “This is my first show with SCCT. I have always wanted to direct this musical.”

Coulter said that “The Last Five Years” has developed something of a cult following.

“As a director, this show presents a challenging concept. We have to tell the story in a compelling way, a way that is does not use traditional dramatic structure,” she said.

The show has never played on Broadway, but it has seen many productions in Off-Broadway venues.

Coulter believes that everyone in the audience will identify with some aspect of the story being told in “The Last Five Years.”

“There are echoes of this story in many relationships,” she said.

Playing Cathy is Anna Stanko, who started performing when she lived in Kane, appearing in such roles as Little Orphan Annie and Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls.”

Stanko joins Coulter in her admiration for the dramaturgy and storytelling devices used by the show’s creator.

“I love the song ‘See, I’m Smiling.’ It is very powerful and deeply emotional,” she said.

Playing the role of Jamie is James Ruth, who studied acting at Towson University near Baltimore. His acting career began with the recent production of “Chess” by Fuse Productions.

“After ‘Chess’ ended, I was in rehearsal for ‘The Last Five Years.’ And it was only two days later,” he said.

Both Ruth and Stanko feel the lyrics are carefully written and they hope audiences will pick up on the clues they reveal.

According to Coulter, the production will be simple. Instead it will focus on the relationship between the lead characters.

If you go

What: State College Community Theatre’s “The Last Five Years”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Fairmount Auditorium, 411 S. Fraser St., State College

Info: scctonline.org