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Scott Porter & Janel Parrish Are Bringing 'The Last Five Years' to Life Like Never Before!

Scott Porter & Janel Parrish Are Bringing 'The Last Five Years' to Life Like Never Before!

The beloved musical The Last Five Years is currently being produced in Los Angeles with two great stars – Hart of Dixie‘s Scott Porter and Pretty Little LiarsJanel Parrish – and in a way you’ve never seen it before!

The After Hours Theatre Company has created a multisensory experience utilizing scent design, 360° sound, curated cocktails, and an interactive pre-show experience.

Both Scott and Janel got their starts in theatre and they’re going back to their roots with this new production of Jason Robert Brown‘s two-person musical.

We caught up with the two stars to learn more about the production and how their experiences have been with the show so far.

Just Jared: When did you first hear about The Last Five Years? Have you ever seen a production of it before?

Scott Porter: I came to know of The Last Five Years while I was living in Tokyo for a year in 2003/4. My friend had a bootleg VHS of the original Chicago production of the show staring Norbert Leo Butz and Lauren Kennedy. I was blown away. As someone who was very familiar with the true breadth of theatre I always thought of Broadway shows to be big and flashy, and then I saw this incredibly powerful and personal story of just two individuals and I truly saw the power of this medium.

Janel Parrish: I heard about The Last Five Years when the soundtrack first came out in 2002. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the story and the music. It’s been a dream role! I’ve never seen a production on stage before, only clips online!

Click inside to read the rest of the interview…

JJ: Did you study any of the previous cast recordings or the movie version before starting rehearsals?

SP: I have only ever heard the original cast recording of Norbert and Sherie Rene Scott and briefly watched the Chicago cast. I have not seen the movie. I love the fact that this show truly allows the audience (whether it be those just listening to a recording or watching a production) agency over what is occurring and how each audience member is allowed a different perspective. That is largely due to it being an intimate stage production, with the film it has to put faces and names to parts of the story the stage version doesn’t. So I’ve stayed away from seeing it live or watching the film for years because of my own personal perspective of the piece.

JP: I had already seen the movie version a few times and I knew the album by heart since I was already a fan. However, once I started working on the musical, I stopped listening to the album so I could make the role my own.

JJ: What sets this production apart from previous productions of the musical?

SP: We perform in the round to an incredibly intimate house of only sixty guests. The orchestra is in the audience. I can reach out and literally touch them. I think performing this piece in this small of a house really puts the audience in an incredibly unique situation where they are able to get this story delivered to them in a more personal way than most can imagine. Add to that the pre-show experiences, the in-show paired cocktails that match certain scenes, a number of scents that are brought into the space, like the scent of grass and water while the characters are in Central Park, and the audience feels as if they are a true part of this exploration of love and love lost. A number of guests have shared with me after the shows that they almost felt they had a hand in this journey, that they were complicit in some way. We love to hear that.

JP: Kari Hayter and our incredible production team have truly created a touching and beautiful experience. I say it’s an experience because the audience is really experiencing something. It’s so intimate and immersive that I feel the audience in a way becomes part of the show. It’s told beautifully and clearly and every night someone comes up to me and says how moved they were by the production. It’s so rewarding!

JJ: How has the multi-sensory experience of this production affected your performance?

SP: For me, I don’t have the same experience the audience does. I think because some of my senses are firing at such an extreme level while performing this thing I don’t smell the scents, I can’t see the effects the lighting is creating. The proximity to the audience is what really changes this show. They are privy to every single moment I am on stage. It’s almost the perfect collision of stage and film. There is no time off. We are connected all the way through and it’s invigorating.

JP: I love feeling the audience. They are right there with us in this intimate space. We can feel their emotions and their energy feeds ours. It feels like a shared experience. The lighting and the scents add to the emotions the music already invokes. The complete package to me is stunning.

JJ: What is your favorite song in the show to perform?

SP: Every single one. This show is brilliant through and through. I always loved “If I Didn’t Believe in You” and “Moving Too Fast” as a fan listening to the album but they are actually not my favorites to perform. The two songs I would listen to the least have actually jumped ahead quite a bit, “The Schmuel Song” because of its playfulness in a live room and “Nobody Needs to Know” because of its raw power and full glut of emotion. “A Miracle Would Happen” and “Shiksa Goddess” are incredibly fun and I literally sang Jamie’s portion of “The Next Ten Minutes” to my wife during our wedding reception so that will always have an incredibly special place in my heart.

JP: “I Can Do Better Than That.” In this song, Cathy shows us why Jamie fell in love with her and why she fell in love with him. It’s the height of her love for him and she is at her brightest. Not only that, but it’s a gorgeous and fun song with witty moments and heartfelt moments. I get to feel it all in this song.

The Last Five Years is playing now at The Other Space at The Actor’s Company in Los Angeles. The final performance is on July 14.

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Photos: KJ Knies
Posted to: Exclusive, Janel Parrish, Scott Porter

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