Company will see many a curtain call

The theater company behind “The Last Five Years’ will last, well, for at least five years

by Tatum Fjerstad

Three University theater students wanted to put on a play. The theater company they created to do so was an afterthought.

But now that afterthought will be what lasts.

“We asked ourselves, Why do all this work and then it would be over?” said Sid Solomon, a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts acting major. “We decided to build something that would last.”

The Bachelor of Fine Arts students created the nonprofit Twin Cities Theatre Company to afford putting on Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years.” But after the show ends, the company will continue ” they’ve skipped classes and homework to make sure it does.

Solomon fell in love with Jason Robert Brown’s work his freshman year in high school and later passed the obsession on to Bachelor of Fine Arts peer Stanton Nash.

One year ago, Nash proposed the idea of putting on the musical during “free play,” an opportunity in the first month of their final semester to create their own work ” of any kind in any venue. Stanton called on good friend and fellow Bachelor of Fine Arts student Andrew Hovelson to direct the show so Stanton could act in it.

“The Last Five Years,” a two-person musical, tells the story of lovers Kathy, an Irish-Catholic actress and Jamie, a Jewish writer, falling in and out of love, from each of their points of view, in switched order.

Kathy’s first number is from the end of the relationship, and Jamie’s is from the beginning. For all but one song, the two characters are constantly on different planes ” while Kathy is singing about the first kiss, Jamie is singing about the breakup. The two sing only one number together, when they get engaged and married ” all during one song.

In addition to producing “The Last Five Years,” Twin Cities Theatre Company aims to create affordable and educational theater.

“A lot of theater is beyond the reach of people like us, well-trained and interested in theater, simply because we can’t afford it,” Solomon said.

After all they have learned from building a theater from the ground up, they decided they wanted to share the knowledge. So they added an educational component to their company. Next they’ll take proposals from people who want their work produced.

“This company is built to last,” Solomon said. “Even though our futures are up in the air, the company will never go away. All of this work is going to pay off.”

Nash said each founder fills an important role, creating a harmonic balance.

“We’re creating a piece of art. And I say, Here’s what we’re going to make. Andrew says, OK, this is what we need to make it. And Sid picks up the tools and makes it,” Nash said.

Switching roles from peers to professionals can be tricky, but the three say they don’t run into too many problems.

“We’ve all been around theater long enough to know how to respect our roles,” Solomon said.

Putting all this work into a new nonprofit theater company while still being full-time Bachelor of Fine Arts students can be taxing. A Bachelor of Fine Arts student spends more than 12 hours a day at school ” in classes and in rehearsals.

“The normal hours for eating, sleeping and homework are not there,” Solomon said. “We are adept at juggling time. I’ve missed classes for meetings ” I’ve just got to make those decisions.”

After months of preparation, they aren’t sick of the show.

“We can’t stop singing along,” Solomon said.