As students wrap up the Fall 2014 semester with final exams and projects, Alexa Albanese '16 will present a show to the campus community as an escape in musical form, "The Last 5 Years."
The story follows the five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress, who live in New York City. The musical is told by Cathy in reverse chronological order and concludes after the couple's first date, while Jamie's story moves from beginning to end. "The Last 5 Years" was written by Jason Robert Brown and debuted on Broadway in 2002.
Performances will be held Saturday, December 6th, and Sunday, December 7th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Auditorium. Admission is free.
Albanese, a double major in theater arts (individualized) and English with a concentration in writing and literature, fell in love with "The Last 5 Years" while she was in high school - and she'd never seen the show, just heard the soundtrack. Since she knew she couldn't sing, she wanted to direct it.
"I had a lot of visions for these characters. I had a lot of relations to similar stories, whether it be in my family or relationships of my own," she said. "Reading the plot can't do justice to what stories the music tells you. The composer took snapshots of a day in the life and made it something so much more important."
With a small performing arts department, there was time and space for Albanese for complete her Senior Capstone project as a junior. In September, she cast Jordan Lindley '16 as Jamie and Temma Beaudreau '18 as Cathy. Rehearsals began in October.
"I think the emotion and intimacy of what theater really is comes from seeing these two actors give 110 percent all the time. They have to make you laugh. They have to make you cry. You just learn that theater can be as captivating with 30 people, as it is with just one person as the focus. This play shows a lot of sincerity in the music and it shows how great storytelling can be," Albanese said.
She added how extremely proud she is of the two actors, especially this being Beaudreau's first year at Emmanuel.
"They really brought the piece to life for me. They're phenomenal. They work really hard," she said.
Albanese said the performing arts department community have volunteered their time to work on set design, lighting, costumes and more over the past few months to help her get the show ready.
"So many students came together to make these two look great," she said.
One of these student volunteers is Lauren Mullett '15, a double major in sociology with a concentration in crime and justice and English with a concentration in writing and literature. Mullett is the stage manager.
Mullett agrees with Albanese in that the two-person cast makes the show very intimate. Her favorite part of the musical is watching the emotional shifts of the characters. She believes Lindley and Beaudreau have done a fantastic job at showcasing the ups and downs of the characters' lives and relationship.
"Not only is the base material great, but we have worked immensely to put this production together and are so proud of it," Mullett said. "You can expect to smile, laugh and tear up this Saturday and Sunday night, and you won't regret it!"
And that's exactly what happened when a few of Albanese's and Mullett's friends sat in on a recent rehearsal. While looking around the room, Albanese noticed several people crying and in awe - she felt blessed that she was able to impact an audience.
Tied into the holiday season, one song takes place during Christmas. The character of Jamie is Jewish and tries to celebrate Christmas for Cathy.
"Everyone can take at least one song or piece of a character and really feel it. I can't even describe eloquently just how really heartfelt and touching the piece is. It brings you somewhere." Albanese said. "For this to be something that can have my name tied to it, I'm honored."
To reserve tickets, a table will be set up in the Jean Yawkey Center on Friday, December 5th, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Or, e-mail Alexa Albanese at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lauren Mullett at email@example.com.