Real-life husband and wife, Abbie and Josiah Miller portray Cathy and Jamie in Jason Robert Brown’s critically acclaimed musical “The Last Five Years.” CONTRIBUTED

Middletown Lyric Theatre to open 41st season with ‘The Last Five Years’

At the Middletown Lyric Theatre this year, you’ll sense that love is in the air. And on the stage.

“This year is our 41st, and we have a theme, and we are calling it ‘The Season of Love.’ All of our shows in one way or another deal with the subject of love. We kick off with a musical called ‘The Last Five Years,’” said Charley Shafor, the show’s director, and Managing Artistic Director of Middletown Lyric Theatre.

MLT will present “The Last Five Years” over the course of two consecutive weekends. The show will kick off on Friday, September 13. Additional performances will be Sept. 14, 20 and 21. Shows will be at 8 p.m. There will be an additional matinee at 4 p.m. on Sept. 21.

Other shows this season include “Mothers and Sons” with “Andre’s Mother,” on Nov. 1, 2, 8 and 9; “The Gifts of the Magi,” on Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21; William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” on March 20, 21, 27 and 28; Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” on May 1, 2, 8 and 9 and “It Should Been You” on June 19, 20, 26 and 27. “The Last Five Years,” “The Gifts of the Magi,” and “It Shoulda Been You” are musicals.

“We are excited about the season. There’s definitely something for everyone. Love is a universal theme, and it’s something everyone can relate to, but we all know there are different kinds of love – tough loves, sweet loves and first loves. Each show, as we’ve started talking about it, deals with many of those different issues,” Shafor said.

“The Last Five Years” is about what can happen when someone falls out of love. “Mothers and Sons” deals with when you lose someone you love. The holiday show, “The Gifts of the Magi,” is about love that’s sweet, pure and rich, and the sacrifices you make for love, he said.

“Each show definitely highlights and/or touches on a specific part of love. It’s not just a clear and simple, ‘Oh, I love you.’ Each show digs a little deeper and offers its own interpretation of what love can mean and be to someone,” Shafor said.

“The Last Five Years” was written and composed by Jason Robert Brown. “This is a very unconventional musical in how it is written. One character is starting at the beginning of the relationship, and another character is starting at the end of the relationship, and his music, and the way he has arranged the show, helps the audience go through that kind of tormented and twisted path that both of the characters do. So, there’s happiness and joy, and there’s pain and sorrow at every turn. It’s an emotionally-driven show that is based on actual people in his (Brown’s) life,” Shafor said.

“The Last Five Years” stars a real-life husband and wife team. Abbie Miller plays the role of Cathy and Josiah Miller acts as Jamie.

Shafor said MLT has done everything they can to create a quality, comfortable and entertaining experience for theatergoers. Shows are offered at an affordable price, and guests don’t have to drive to Cincinnati or Dayton. Moving into the future, MLT hopes to also build an ensemble company. One of their goals is to continue to attract younger performers as well as younger audience members.

“Looking back, I’m proud that we’ve been able to have the support necessary to have sustained theater in Middletown. Middletown is ever-changing, and it’s socioeconomic status is always changing, and we still have people that value the arts and theater, and they support us. The Middletown Community Foundation is still a supporter of ours, and we continue to have people coming forward saying ‘this is relevant and this is important to what we do,’” Shafor said.

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