by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The Dual Critics previously reviewed Weekend One of “The Last Five Years” which ran from June 14 – 16. As we explained in the review now up on the EU website, Director Alejandro Rodriquez decided to cast a different set of performers for each weekend of the run.
We went to a Thursday dress rehearsal and family and friends night at ABET to see the performances of JOSH WALLER AND MADALINE HILL, to be presented June 21 – 23. Except for the leads, everything was the same , with the excellent orchestra led by Zeek Smith, the welcoming Stage Manger, Evan Gould, and the same set and lighting. We changed seats and sat on the opposite side from the previous week. Our new seats enabled us to see Zeek Smith as he conducted the orchestra
We saw a play last year by The 5 & Dime where the cast of four did the same play but changed roles the following weekend. It was an interesting approach and we did find differences in the productions but were enamored with both.
At ABET, we found the performances of Mr. Wall and Mrs. Hill to be as exciting as those of the performers (Elias Hionides and Raquel Lopez) the weekend before. If there was any change, it was in the way we saw the play the second time. We were better able to follow and appreciate the differing time frames, as Jamie’s story of his relationship with Cathy starts with their courtship and moves forward in time, while hers begins at the end of the relationship and moves backward.
We were more familiar with the performers, having seen them in several shows in the past. We have been following Josh Waller since he was a student at Jacksonville University. He has performed a number of dramatic and comic roles, but we have especially enjoyed his performance in leading roles in musicals such as “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, “Parade”, “The Secret Garden”, and “Batboy: The Musical.” Mr. Waller was also a featured vocalist with the Jacksonville Symphony. He has another impressive performance to add to his resume with “The Last Five Years”.
Madaline Hill’s portrayal was Cathy was also impressive, and both performances were filled with passion, tenderness, and heartbreak that was revealing as well as moving. As critics, we reviewed Mrs. Hill a number of times when she was Madaline Hionides (yes, she is related to Elias who was the first Jamie; she is his sister). We were in awe of her marvelous voice in many productions at the Foundation Academy. Upon graduation, Madaline went on to Shorter College to get her BFA in musical theater. She returned to Jacksonville and was the Performing Arts Director of Foundation Academy for five years. Her only other stage appearance since that time in Jacksonville was with Players by the Sea as a Kit Kat Girl in “Cabaret”. She keeps busy in a new role, raising her one-year-old twin boys.
Have you ever considered seeing a show twice during the same run? We have been to theatres in other cities that offer reduced prices for second viewings on evenings when seats are available. And in Chicago we attended a show at that sells a three-month ticket that offers unlimited views of any show during the run if seats are available. But even without reduced pricing, keep in mind that seeing a show a second time can be both an exciting experience and a rewarding way to support theatre arts. We recommend it!
We hope that ABET Artist Director Celia Frank will make summer musicals a part of ABET’s lineup in the future. We certainly enjoyed this summer’s offering. Thanks to all involved with bringing this emotionally powerful and unusual musical to North Florida.
THE LAST FIVE YEARS – with JOSH WALLER and MADALINE HILL
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM