It’s always fun to see a relatively new show in an unexpected venue.
The presentation of the contemporary musical “The Last Five Years” by the Panoramic Theatre Company at the Cache Venue earlier this month qualified as a great experience on both counts.
The production of Jason Robert Brown’s quirky musical was both enjoyable and a memorable lesson that theatrical magic can be achieved with just a tiny cast, a handful of musicians and a few lights on a stage not much bigger than a postage stamp.
If you’re never been to the Cache Venue, shame on you! It’s at 119 South Main St., where a former landmark restaurant has been remodeled into a nightspot. The Cache Venue isn’t fancy, but the joint is jumping with everything from live music to stand-up comics. “The Last Five Years” was the venue’s first theatrical offering, however.
“The Last Five Years” is a strange little musical with a high-concept gimmick. The play is a he said/she said autopsy of a romantic relationship, from its rapturous birth to its inevitable death. But the story is told musically in alternating scenes with their perspective moving in two different directions. From the guy’s point of view, the affair plays out from its start to its finish. From the girl’s perspective, the relationship moves backward in time from its end to its beginning.
With just a two-person cast, this show was an ideal choice for the tight space of the Cache Venue’s show room. Chris Metz played Jaime, a self-centered writer on the cusp of success, while Kennedy Oaks was Cathy, a frustrated actress trying vainly to break into the big time.
“The Last Five Years” is practically an operetta; there are just a few snatches of dialogue between the songs that dramatically tell the story of the romance doomed by unreasonable expectations. Although the play’s score is vocally demanding, Metz and Ms. Oaks were more than equal to that challenge. She had an unusually vibrant soprano voice that lent itself well to the show’s power-ballads. His talent as a song stylist made the show’s male numbers especially compelling. Together, Metz and Ms. Oaks were dynamite.
The production was an unqualified success. The Cache Venue’s lighting and sound systems functioned flawlessly and the audience’s close proximity to the nightclub’s pint-sized stage merely enhanced the show’s already palpable sense of intimacy.
I’m looking forward to seeing more productions from the Panoramic Theatre folks, since they appear to be dedicated to staging more progressive shows than our traditional diet of the tried and true here in Cache Valley.
I can also safely predict a real future for the Cache Venue as a setting for small-cast shows presented in a dinner theater atmosphere. I can easily imagine seeing “The Fantasticks” there, or “Nunsense,” or even (God help us) “Waiting for Godot.”