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Stage Right presents ‘The Last 5 Years’ at new Aspinwall venue

Tawnya Panizzi
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Jan Pakler | For the Tribune-Review
Stage Right will present “The Last 5 Years” Feb. 14-16.

Stage Right Performing Arts & Education will christen its new home in Aspinwall with a special winter musical.

“The Last 5 Years” will be the first production by the acting group at its new digs in Aspinwall Riverfront Park. Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, the show will be Feb. 14-16. Tickets are available at stagerightpgh.org.

Local actors Jenna Hayes and Will Docimo star in the intimate show which chronicles a five-year life of a marriage.

“It somehow manages to combine happiness and heartbreak and make it artistic and beautiful,” said Hayes, a graduate of Fox Chapel Area High School and Duquesne University.

Set mainly in and around New York City, Hayes stars as Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress from Ohio and Docimo, also a Fox Chapel Area grad, plays Jamie Wellerstein, a writer who starts to experience success at the start of their relationship.

The show’s unconventional structure follows the couple who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. Hayes’ character tells her story backwards while Docimo tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meet once, at their wedding in the middle of the show.

“When I first listened to the show in its entirety, I couldn’t believe the emotional ups and downs,” Hayes said. “Music has always made me ‘feel,’ and this particular show brings out true emotions in the listener and audience member.”

Hayes has directed, choreographed and produced plays and musicals at Fox Chapel Area and previously served as the choir director at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. Last year, she led Stage Right’s junior summer theater camps, introducing children to the basics of theater.

“The Last Five Years” was named one of TIME Magazine’s 10 best shows of 2001. A film adaptation was released in 2014.

Stage Manager Jamie McDonald said a six-piece string orchestra will accompany the show and that the theater group is excited to launch their new venue on Valentine’s Day weekend. They announced the move earlier this year, saying leaders are more determined than ever to cultivate a commitment by youth to local theater. In its 54th season, the group also announced the formation of a junior board of directors. McDonald said it was due to the success of a fledgling program last year and will be comprised of teens from the Fox Chapel Area School District to reach out to young people interested in stage production.

Aspinwall Riverfront Park is a 10-acre campus at 285 River Avenue, and has an open-air marina building with river views and a smaller stage among a swathe of native plants.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, [email protected] or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.