Forever is a tricky concept for the human mind and heart. In the words of musician Ben Harper, "Forever always seems / to be around when it begins / but forever never seems / to be around when it ends."
It's a line that characters Jamie Wellerstein (Nicholas Kelly) and Cathy Hyatt (Devon Moody-McSherry) can easily relate to.
Five years ago Jamie, a writer, and Cathy, an actress, were deeply in love. Now, five years on, they are divorced. What happens in the middle is what makes up the musical play by Jason Robert Brown, "The Last Five Years."
Paper Wing Theatre Company presents this intimate musical under the direction and musical direction of Eric N. Johnson. It opens Friday night and continues Friday and Saturday evenings through Feb. 9.
"The Last Five Years" premiered in Chicago in 2001, moving to off-Broadway in 2002.
As we are all aware, there are two sides to every story and "The Last Five Years" is no exception. Jamie tells his version in chronological order — when the curtain first goes up he is gooey-eyed and in love.
Cathy explains things in reverse order, beginning alone, musing about the failure of her marriage and moving backwards in time to happier days.
Perhaps the two different orders of storytelling are indicative of two people looking at life differently.
"All I know is, it really works," said Koly McBride, artistic director of Paper Wing Theatre. "It really helps keep the levity," she added. "To keep a little bit of life in it.
The two characters acknowledge and interact with each other only once in the play — during the scene depicting their wedding when they sing a sweet duet called "The Next 10 Minutes."
"You can see the hope with both of them," McBride said of the moment in the play. "It's just really well done."
The music in general is something McBride feels carries the depth of "The Last Five Years."
"When I first hear about (the play) I had my doubts about it," Paper Wing's founder admitted. "But then I heard the music."
The soundtrack is mostly piano and strings, a lot of ballads with some upbeat tunes. The songs are where the emotions can ride high.
"They aren't just singing these songs to get them to the next timeline," said McBride. The singing shows so much of the character. "There is a lot of emotion in both of the voices."
At the close of the play Cathy has reached all the way back to the feelings of new love, singing "Goodbye Until Tomorrow," while Jamie completes his reminiscing with the number "I Could Never Rescue You."
It all begs the question of what went wrong.
"I think they got together because they truly loved each other and they fit," said McBride. According to her, the dissolution came because of a struggle for status. Jamie's writing career was taking off and causing a rift with Cathy's comparatively struggling career in acting.
"He wanted her to embrace the lifestyle that she was creating and she wanted her own thing."
Brown, as the playwright, had to alter one of the songs in the show to avoid legal ramifications from his own ex.
Their relationship was the basis for "The Last Five Years" and the script apparently came a little too close to reality.
Our fascination with real-life entertainment is by now something we take for granted. Are we looking for a mirror?
"Maybe a mirror," McBride pondered. "Maybe we want to see a piece of ourselves played out on stage or something as simple as experiencing something that we haven't experienced, but we know is real."
Kathryn Petruccelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. GO!
·What: Paper Wing Theatre presents Jason Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years"
·Where: Paper Wing Theatre Company, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey
·When: Opening 8 p.m. Friday, Jan 25; continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 9
·Tickets: $20 advance at facebook.com/PaperWingTheatre or $20 at the door, one half-hour before the performance
·Information: facebook.com/PaperWingTheatre; 905-5684