Song cycle by Jason Robert Brown. Brown, (who won a Tony Award for "Parade") is known for his ascerbic wit and intelligent scoring. This show is no exception, but it also has an interesting thematic twist that poses quite a few compositional and performance challenges.

Plot

On its most basic level, the play is the story of two people meeting, falling in love, getting married and the decline of their relationship. The thing that's so captivating is that Jamie (Norbert Leo Butz) tells the story from front to back while Kathleen (Sherie René Scott) simultaneously tells it back to front. So at the beginning Jamie's ecstatic and Kathleen's crying and at the end Kathleen's hopeful and Jamie's totally beaten.

Performance

The staging makes the actors' unenviable job of trying to keep all this straight even harder - the couple only interacts with each other once during the play, and that's smack dab in the middle: their wedding. The rest of the time they're singing by (or to) themselves. They are forced to figure out where their relationship stands without talking to (or even touching) the other.

Music & Lyrics

The music definitely keeps one guessing, swinging from one style to another almost seamlessly, but it's the lyrics that really shine through. I'll leave it up to other noders to take care of the complete songs (or...I'll do it myself later) but some tidbits are included below.

  • "My first crush on an Irish girl, I was ten years old and her name was Elaine. Little red-head girl, well, she looked like you, but if you were ten. Which you're clearly not. Not that you look old, but you get my...I'll just stop now." - I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You *
  • "I swear to God I'll never understand how you can stand there straight and tall, and see I'm crying...and not do anything at all." - Still Hurting
  • "Everybody tells you that the minute you get married, every other woman in the work suddenly finds you attractive, well that's not true - It only effects the kind of woman you always wanted to sleep with." - A Miracle Would Happen

Original (Chicago) Song List

Thanks to http://www.geocities.com/jason_robert_brown/l5y.html for the track list and other info I'd forgotten

* This song was cut from the show after its premiere in Chicago - the story is partially autobiographical and Brown's ex-wife objected that Kathleen so closely resembled her. The song was cut and another ("Shiksa Goddess") substituted when the show reached New York. It's kinda cute really - in the original Kathleen was Irish, in the remake alterations were made to refer to her as Not Jewish.