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‘The Last Five Years’ creative team blends regional, national talent

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“The Last Five Years” will feature Broadway talent performing on the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center stage Feb. 22-24 in Big Sky. PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES

WARREN MILLER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

Over the weekend of Feb. 22-24, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center will welcome the Off-Broadway musical “The Last Five Years” to Big Sky. The musical will feature Big Sky favorite and Broadway star Abby Mueller, who participated in last year’s “Concert for America,” and her recent Broadway co-star Ben Jacoby, as they portray the dissolution of a young couple’s marriage.

Jason McDowell-Green will direct this production of “The Last Five Years.” Speaking about the complexity of directing a musical with such a complex chronology—Jamie, played by Jacoby, tells his version of the story chronologically, while Cathy, played by Mueller, tells her story in reverse—McDowell-Green said, “You have to dig into it like a private eye. Preparing for this work is almost like building a map of the play.”

The audience will only see two actors onstage, but they will take in the hard work and imagination of the entire creative team, all of whom have been working for weeks on the production. “This show might appear simple at first glance, but the amount of preparation and ingenuity a team pours into a show like this is remarkable,” said John Zirkle, executive director of WMPAC. The play will employ separate designers for costume, sound, lighting and the set, in addition to the director, stage manager, music director, and a guitarist and cellist, who will provide the live music for the production.

“We’re obviously thrilled to have Abby’s and Ben’s immense talent on our stage, but there’s so much more artistry to appreciate in addition to the actors,” Zirkle said.

While most members of the large creative team are flying to Big Sky from New York City specifically for this production, a number of them will be local professionals. Reid Loessberg, the sound designer, grew up outside of Bozeman and earned a degree in music technology from Montana State University.

“My job will be to look at how the sound can best support the story,” Loessberg said. “How can we make our band and actors sound full and supported without being overwhelming? The intimacy of WMPAC lends itself perfectly to having delicate performances, as well as delicate sound.”

When asked about what it means to be able to work locally in such a niche field, Loessberg was unequivocal. “I’m thrilled to be able to continue working in Montana,” he said. “Most graduates of theater arts programs have almost no choice but to find work in a large city. To be able to be a part of the thriving theater community in southwestern Montana is a real honor.”

“The Last Five Years” will be performed at Warren Miller Performing Arts Center on Friday Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 24 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets and more information are available at warrenmillerpac.org.

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