The Last Five Years

Music: Jason Robert Brown
Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Book: Jason Robert Brown
Opened: March 3, 2002
At: Minetta Lane Theatre

  • Sherie Rene Scott
  • Norbert Leo Butz

The Last Five Years is a production, and this is a general overview of that production.


The Last 5 Years is a contemporary one act musical written by Jason Robert Brown. It premiered at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois on May 23, 2001 by Northlight Theatre. The male character, Jamie Wellerstein, was played by Norbert Leo Butz, and the female character, Catherine (Cathy) Hiatt, was played by Lauren Kennedy.

The first New York production of The Last 5 Years was at the Minetta Lane Theater on February 11, 2002. The first press opening was March 3, 2002, and the show closed May 5, 2002. Norbert Leo Butz continued to play Jamie Wellerstein; however, because Lauren Kennedy had a previous theatrical commitment, Sherie Rene Scott premiered in the role of Cathy Hiatt. Since its off-Broadway closing in 2002, The Last 5 Years has had numerous productions all over the United States and has been seen in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, and the UK.


The Last 5 Years examines the five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress. Unlike most musicals, this show uses a unique storytelling approach where Jamie travels chronologically in time, from the beginning of the relationship to the end, while Cathy travels backwards in time, from the end of the relationship to the beginning. Because Jamie and Cathy travel in opposing time lines, the only direct contact between the two occurs during their engagement/wedding song in “The Next Ten Minutes." This show is an intensely personal examination of the rise and fall of a relationship, the games couples’ play, and the multidimensionality of a person.

The Last 5 Years was based on the tumultuous marriage between Jason Robert Brown, the composer, and his former wife, Theresa O’Neill. Because the character, Cathy, held numerous similarities to O’Neill, O’Neill took legal action against Brown. This lawsuit prompted Brown to distinguish Cathy from O’Neill, and the dispute was settled just before the New York premiere in 2002.


As the musical opens, Cathy is sitting alone in her apartment grieving her failed marriage to Jamie, who has just recently moved out (“Still Hurting”). As Cathy finishes singing, Jamie appears on stage ready for his first date with Cathy five years earlier. Although Jamie is perplexed by the idea that Cathy is not Jewish like him, he becomes infatuated with her by the end of the date (“Shiksa Goddess”).

Cathy reappears on stage sitting on a pier in Ohio with Jamie. Jamie has come to visit her for her birthday while she performs in a summer stock theatre. In “See I’m Smiling,” Cathy shows her eagerness to better their failing marriage; however, she becomes enraged when Jamie tells her he is heading back to New York, which starts an argument. Cathy claims that only thinks of himself, his writing career, his friends, and his “little girlfriends.” During breaks in Cathy’s song, Jamie, years earlier, talks to an agent about his newly written book. Jamie's literary success has begun.

The musical moves away from the pier to several years earlier where Jamie tells a friend of his plans to move in with Cathy. Everything looks promising for Jamie as his relationship with Cathy is strong and his first book is being published in the Atlantic Monthly. Jamie does realize a developing separation and alienation of Cathy from his work; however, he claims that everything will be fine and that life is good in “Moving Too Fast.” Cathy; however, reveals her struggle as an actress with a call to her agent.

Cathy is then sitting at one of Jamie’s book signings. She claims that, although he has become distant and obsessed with his work, she is still deeply in love with him and proud of all he does (“A Part of That”). Her dependence on Jamie becomes ever more apparent, and she has lost her sense of self through following him.

The musical switches to the first Christmas Jamie and Cathy spend together. He tells her his newly written fable about an old tailor named Schmuel is helped along by a magical clock to figure out his dreams (The Schmuel Song”). Jamie relates Schmuel to Cathy and tells her to figure out her dreams and go for them. Jamie ends by giving Cathy her Christmas present, a watch. We then switch back to (a newlywed) Cathy, who is writing to Jamie from Ohio about her meddling time preforming in Ohio ("Summer in Ohio").

The musical then joins the two as Jamie proposes to Cathy in a boat, and the two get married ("The Next Ten Minutes"). It is after this point where the two essentially switch places - with Jamie now being in the post-marriage phase and Cathy going through the pre-marriage phase of their relationship.

Now newly married, Jamie struggles to fight off infidelity as his popularity grows and his wife goes off to Ohio, with him stating that he'll be there [in Ohio] for Cathy, just after he's done with the publishing affairs of his book ("A Miracle Would Happen"). Meanwhile Cathy is practicing for an Audition ("When You Come Home to Me").

Cathy details her thoughts during one of her audition processes, ending with her not getting the role. She declares that she will not be the unsuccessful housewife to the "genius" author, demonstrating her growing disdain for Jamie's success ("Climbing Uphill"). (Older) Jamie interrupts her, arguing with (older) Cathy over attending a publishing party and his editor Elise. Jamie combats Cathy's claims of him being unsupportive by stating that he believes in her, or else he wouldn't still be with her. However, he also states that he will not give up his success to support Cathy ("If I Didn't Believe In You").

(Younger) Cathy details her past, including friendships and previous failed romances, to Jamie, as they travel to meet Cathy's parents. Cathy tells Jamie that he does not have to change himself, stating she wants "you, you, and nothing but you" (calling back to See I'm Smiling from earlier in the show) before asking Jamie to move in with her ("I Can Do Better Than That").

The show refocuses on an Older Jamie, lying in bed next to a woman, who is revealed to not be Cathy. Jamie tries to console his affair partner after she starts crying, and puts the blame of his crumbling marriage onto Cathy for never giving him his privacy. He tells the woman that will not lie to her, and then states that "I could be in love with someone like you" to the woman, just as he did to Cathy during Shiksa Goddess.

Cathy tells her new boyfriend, Jamie, goodbye after their first date and states that she has been waiting her whole life for him ("Goodbye Until Tomorrow"). At the same time, an older Jamie writes a goodbye letter to Cathy requesting for a divorce, stating that nothing could save their marriage but that he did love her, whilst Elise helps him pack up his things ("I Could Never Rescue You").


This describes any professional productions of the show that have taken place, be they Broadway, West End, Off-Broadway, Touring, etc.

Song List[]

I'm Still Hurting ~Cathy
Shiksa Goddess ~Jamie
See I'm Smiling ~Cathy
Moving Too Fast ~Jamie
Part of That ~Cathy
The Schmuel Song ~Jamie
A Summer in Ohio ~Cathy
The Next Ten Minutes ~Jamie & Cathy
A Miracle Would Happen/When You Come Home to Me ~Jamie & Cathy
fsafa ~Cathy
If I Didn't Believe in You ~Jamie
I Can Do Better Than That ~Cathy
Nobody Needs to Know ~Jamie
Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You ~Jamie & Cathy

Character List[]

Jamie (Tenor)

Amateur Productions[]

Four Seasons Theatre - Madison, Wisconsin - November, 2005
Four Seasons Theatre - Madison, Wisconsin - November, 2006