The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By James Walling
The Courier 

The First Two Acts

FPST Kicks Off Summer Season with a Strong Showing

 

Courtesy of FPST

Actors Courtney and Daniel Crary play a couple with a troubled marriage in FPST's The Last Five Years.

Sincerity on stage trumps training every time. Especially with musical theatre. This rule holds true with Fort Peck Summer Theatre’s The Last Five Years, starring Daniel and Courtney Crary as a married couple whose respective narratives pass each other in time from opposing states of estrangement and engagement (interestingly, our stars are a married couple from New York in real life).

Both actors carry their weight admirably, though Courtney, who doubles as Musical Director for the show, seems to be more at ease with the material. The fact that both players give heartfelt and understated performances drowns out the occasional off note during the songs. When the couple starts in sharing alternately happy and sad memories from their marriage, the virtuosity of the singing takes a back seat.

Make no mistake: This is a show about a painful divorce. That said, the brisk pace of director Andy Meyers’ production and the vulnerability of his stars makes for delightful playgoing. Scene and costume changes move like the wind, with music from a live ensemble (more on that later) and an effective, economical lighting scheme marking the passage of time.

Designer Jay Michael Roberts’ set spreads the activity well and places our characters within the frame, literally and figuratively. The performance space in Fort Peck holds a special place in all of our hearts, of course, but it also presents considerable difficulties from a technical perspective. Roberts’ efforts go a long way toward solving many of these. The mix on the sound was also handled surprisingly well on the evening I attended, addressing the perpetual concerns of audience members about volume levels and audibility.

Musicians Lizzie Hatfield (piano/conductor), James Rickley (cello), Taylor Caprara (violin) and Tyson Gerhardt (guitar) are well-positioned on the stage and provide a welcome throughline/backdrop for the back-and-forth between the characters.

Writer Jason Robert Brown reputedly faced some blowback for including personal details in this autobiographical work. As is often the case with messy domestic squabbles in the arts, the audience is the beneficiary. Like dueling banjos, the Crarys’ Cathy and Jamie sing of compromise, selfishness, romance and fruitless attempts at reconciliation. To say that things don’t end happily in The Last Five Years is hardly a plot spoiler, but the tone is hopeful throughout. There’s hope to be derived from sympathy and reflection, after all, and both qualities are on full display here.

The Last Five Years is showing June 10-11 at 7:30 p.m. and June 12 at 4 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 406-526-9943.

 

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