Loose Cannon Productions initiated the new Alley Theatre with the Indiana premiere of The Last Five Years. The new theater, located at 1716 N. Illinois St. in a building situated between a White Castle and CVS, is literally accessed through an alley. Signage is small, so stay alert or you will miss it and have to double back on one of the parallel streets, as Illinois is one-way. The Alley is a folding chair, black box theater — but it is an adequate size, lighting is good and the performance space is intimate.
The Last Five Years, the fifth Loose Cannon production, is a two-person musical written and composed by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World and — get this — Urban Cowboy: The Musical). Catherine M. Smith and Joe Doyel play Catherine and Jaime, a young couple who fall in love, get married and separate in the course of five years. The only twist to the story is that it’s told by Jaime from the beginning to the end, and with Catherine telling it from end to beginning.
The concept becomes confusing the longer the show runs (an hour and a half with no intermission). And, the characters have no depth — scant information is given about either one. Only the shallowest of explanations is given for Jaime’s betrayal, and Catherine ends up looking like nothing more than a woman doomed to be betrayed.
Script issues aside, Smith is perfect as Catherine. Her pure voice is complemented by her complete integration of body movement and emotions. She is the epitome of an actor who can make a musical number look natural. Doyel, on the other hand, often sounded strained, and his gestures looked forced and affected.
Brent E. Marty, musical director and pianist, is a boon to the show, inconspicuous in his placement at the back of the theater — but you can always hear him turn a page with an aggressive thwack.
The Last Five Years, directed by Ben Tebbe, continues through June 5; 926-8888 for tickets and www.loosecannonindy.org for information.