.‘The Last Five Years’ at Cinnabar

Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater kicks off North Bay theater in 2024 with their production of the Jason Robert Brown musical The Last Five Years. It’s the first of four shows remaining in their season before they close up shop at the little red schoolhouse on the hill and go on the road as a proposed new venue takes shape. The Jared Sakren-directed show runs through Jan. 21.

Brown’s sort of autobiographical tale of the ending of a relationship at the five-year point was close enough to the real thing to have a lawsuit filed by his ex and a countersuit filed by himself. Minor revisions were made, and the show went on to great success Off-Broadway. The two-hander has become a staple of regional and community theaters.

The show opens with Cathy Hiatt (Zanna Wyant) mourning the end of her marriage with the song “Still Hurting.” We then meet Jamie Wellerstein (Zachary Hasbany), all agog about his new girlfriend, the “Shiksa Goddess.” The two proceed to tell the tale of their relationship via song in reverse timelines; Cathy from end to beginning, Jamie from beginning to end. They only really share the stage in the middle at their wedding.

The show is a musical “she says/he says.” Cathy is a struggling actress; Jamie is a novelist on the cusp of success. Knowing from the onset the relationship is doomed alleviates the audience from wondering if they’ll make it, leaving only the question of why they don’t. With Cathy’s struggles comes frustration. With Jamie’s success comes temptation. And so it goes.

Despite the show’s beginning/ending, it’s not all doom-and-gloom as the music matches the ups as well as the downs in a relationship. The show’s lightest moments are when Cathy sings about the audition process in “Climbing Uphill” and Jamie sings his Christmas story of a tailor and his magical clock (“The Schmuel Song”).

Wyant brings real emotional depth and a powerful voice to her character. Hasbany, an affable performer, does well with his character’s giddier moments but less so with his more loutish ones.

A five-piece, off-stage band led by Brett Strader provides strong musical support. Wayne Hovey’s minimally-designed set pieces seem to effortlessly glide on and off the stage through the show’s 85 intermission-less minutes as the relationship moves backward and forward through time and space.

Cinnabar’s The Last Five Years is a solid if somewhat melancholy theatrical beginning to the New Year.

‘The Last Five Years’ runs through Jan. 21 at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Fri–Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. $25–$50. 707.763.8920. cinnabartheater.org.


  1. I love your review. I saw the show also, and enjoyed the performances so much.
    “Cathy” brought tears to my eyes.
    I thought you were spot on with review
    Denise Kearney

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