The Next Big Thing

Old school photo with Audra McDonald and my good friend, Joanna. Audra was kind enough to accept my invitation to speak to our show choir after her show in Buffalo, NY, which was just about the most amazing thing ever.

Old school photo with Audra McDonald and my good friend, Joanna. Audra was kind enough to accept my invitation to speak to our show choir after her show in Buffalo, NY, which was just about the most amazing thing ever.

I must admit upfront that this blog post represents an absolute cop out. For weeks I have been working on and pondering a post on race and Ferguson, but ironically, I have held back on a post about how difficult it is to ask questions and engage in these topics because...wait for it...it is difficult to ask questions and engage in these topics. 

I hope to have that post ready at some point, but until then, I wanted to write another post I have wanted to write for a long time that is, well, less complicated.

This post is timely (for me, at least) for two reasons: 1) I'm in New York right now (I wrote a post on why I love New York City). 2) Melissa and I are going to see Lady Day with Audra McDonald tonight. Billie Hoiiday is my favorite singer (I wrote about her in my first blog post), while Audra is my absolute favorite actress on Broadway.

I want to give you a heads-up on what will be the next big thing, gentle readers.

The Last Five Years was THE musical while I was in high school among a select set of students (OK, OK...kids in show choir). It was what I would sing in the shower, around the house, and yes, in school hallways. "Still Hurting" was every girl's favorite audition song (I believe the girl I call "wifey" can be included in that camp). The bravado of "Moving Too Fast" made it perfect for a bunch of charged up teenage boys.

The musical is in many ways the successor to Rent (along with Spring Awakening), in that it is raw, modern (musically and otherwise) and focuses on relationships. Indeed, The Last Five Years is somewhat unique in that it is more of a song cycle as we get to trace the course of their relationship with the female (Cathy) telling the story backwards from the end of the relationship to the beginning, while the male (Jamie) tells the story from the beginning. 

Now, The Last Five Years is set to become a movie starring Anna Kendrick in her most substantive role since Up in the Air, and Jeremy Jordan, a legit singer and broadway performer. It comes out February 13, 2015.

Guys, this is going to be the next big thing. The music for this show is absolutely incredible. It is Jason Robert Brown's masterpiece, and the music is ready-made for Top 40 hit singles. It is, in effect, the adult version of Frozen in the sense that I think it will be inescapable.

This is not to say that I think the musical promotes a healthy view of relationships. The whole construct of the show, based loosely (though some would contest how loosely) on Brown's failed marriage, tends to affirm the modern view that all relationships are "for a season." The language can be crude, and there are more f-bombs than you might be accustomed to for a musical. As I wrote in The Atlantic earlier this week, I think stable families are pretty important.

That said, we can all learn from such focused examinations of a relationship, and The Last Five Years certainly offers us that in an innovative, memorable way.

So do yourself a favor: read about the show, pick up the soundtrack and start learning the lyrics now--you will be ahead of the crowd.

A friend, Matt Worthington, sent me the trailer for the movie. Anna Kendrick's voice sounds pretty incredible, and shows significant emotional range. I'm growing more confident in this movie by the day.