The Summer Stock Experience in The Last Five Years

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

By Shannon Stockwell 

The Last Five Years runs until June 5. Get your tickets here!

In The Last Five Years, Cathy regales us with horrid stories of her time at a theater in the Midwest with the song “Summer in Ohio.” She spends the warm months of the year at what is known in the business as summer stock theater. The practice of staging summer theater in rural areas, sometimes referred to as the “straw-hat circuit,” stems back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, when urbanites would escape the stifling heat of the city by traveling to the countryside. Some theater companies fulfilled the city dwellers’ need for entertainment by setting up stages in barns and tents. The tradition of summer stock theater is still going strong, although most summer theaters today have actual performance spaces.

Berkshire Theatre Festival, a summer stock theater in western Massachusetts.
Photo by John Phelan, 2010. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Cathy’s summer is clearly a miserable one, but is Cathy’s experience true to life? Are there any unsung positives to the summer stock experience? In fact, many of A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program actors have cut their teeth at summer stock theater and continue to return, and their stories of summer stock compare and contrast with Cathy’s in striking ways.

One significant thing Cathy doesn’t mention is the grueling pace of summer stock, and the stretching of artistic muscles that results. M.F.A. Program actor Jennifer Apple, who is in her first year at A.C.T., says, “It’s a really intense experience. You usually get one week of rehearsals, maybe one and a half, three if you’re lucky.” Sometimes productions are only up for a week; sometimes they are performed in repertory with other productions throughout the summer. No matter the schedule, actors are in for a demanding, rewarding summer, one that will give them a year’s worth of experience in just three months. “One of the things that summer stock helps you achieve is flexibility,” says Apple. “You have to be ready for anything at all times. That’s an incredibly useful skill to have as an actor.”

For M.F.A. Program actor Emily Brown, who is in her second year at A.C.T., summer stock has the feeling of work, but also has a bit of a summer-camp atmosphere. “It’s a tight-knit group that comes together for a few weeks to a few months, often in a remote location,” says Brown. “Actors and other artists find themselves spending a lot of time together and exploring the area in their time off. It tends to result in deep bonds with new friends, fun nights out, silly memories, and adventures, much like the experience one would have at a summer camp—but with some work thrown in for good measure.”

It seems like the summer stock experience isn’t as bad as Cathy makes it out to be. “I feel like, because Cathy wants success (which, for her, means fame like her husband’s), summer stock is beneath her,” says second-year M.F.A. Program actor Albert Rubio, who has spent time at his fair share of summer stocks. “The song paints a pretty grim picture of summer stock in general, which I feel is because of Cathy’s mental state in the story and her own self-doubts about feeling unsuccessful. In terms of getting work as an actor, she is successful; she just hasn’t achieved something that would make her ‘famous’ and therefore equal to her husband.”

In reality, the summer stock experience—while it has its downsides—proves positive overall. Despite Cathy’s terrible season, summer stock remains an important aspect of American theater, a place where growing and professional artists can thrive together.

To read more about the summer stock experience in The Last Five Years, click here to purchase a printed or digital copy of Words on Plays, A.C.T.'s in-depth performance guide series. All proceeds go to our ACTsmart education programs, serving teachers and students throughout the Bay Area. 

The Psychiatric World of Chester Bailey

Thursday, May 26, 2016

by Allie Moss and Shannon Stockwell

Joseph Dougherty’s new play Chester Bailey, starring David Strathairn and Dan Clegg, takes place in a very particular world: a psychiatric hospital on Long Island in the 1940s. Psychiatry back then was very different from what it is now. The play’s Dr. Philip Cotton both reflects and refutes that milieu.

The 1940s was a time of transition for psychiatry as a discipline, because advances in the field transformed it from a stigmatized profession to a respectable one. In the United States, many of the psychotherapists at this period started their careers working with World War II veterans suffering from combat fatigue (now called post-traumatic stress disorder). There were two main branches of psychiatric study and treatment during this time—operational psychiatry and Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis (talk therapy).

In the 1940s, operational psychiatry was comprised of experimental procedures that were believed to cure patients of mental illness. These procedures included electroconvulsive therapy (running electricity through the brain so that the body would convulse), fever therapy (injecting the patient with a fever-causing disease like malaria so that the blood and the body’s tissue would heat up enough to kill whatever was causing the mental illness), and lobotomy (surgically removing the “problematic” lobes of the brain). Today many of these therapies are considered archaic and unethical.

David Strathairn (left) and Dan Clegg in Chester Bailey. 
Photo by Kevin Berne. 
Sigmund Freud’s method of psychoanalysis, “the talking cure,” was highly influential for psychiatrists in the 1940s. According to Freud, there are three levels of the mind: the conscious (of which we are aware), the preconscious (which we can call up in memories), and the unconscious (which operates without our awareness). The unconscious, Freud posits, holds all the underlying causes of behavior that are repressed because they are too painful or too difficult to think about. Central to many of Freud’s theories is the belief that the unconscious protects the conscious mind from what it cannot cope with; physical symptoms are manifestations of conflicts that have been repressed by the unconscious. Freudian talk therapy was intended to allow patients to access the unconscious motivations behind their feelings and actions in order to understand and (if desired) change their impulses and behaviors.

“Dr. Cotton is probably more of a therapist than a psychiatrist, and he may be more recognizable as a healer to us than he would be to his contemporaries,” says Dougherty. “There might not be an accurate model for him and his approach to treatment during the time of the play. He may be the first Cottonian.”

If you’re fascinated by the complex psychological themes in this play, please consider joining us for our InterACT event Theater on the Couch. Following a performance of Chester Bailey on Friday, June 3, Dr. Mason Turner, chief of psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center, will lead a lively discussion with the audience exploring the inner workings of the minds of both Chester Bailey and Dr. Philip Cotton.

“I’m a psychiatrist and trained in psychiatry,” says Dr. Turner. “But I also have a side to me that really enjoys writing and the theater. . . . I like to see how psychological themes weave themselves through theater in particular.”

Chester Bailey runs through June 12 at The Strand Theater. Click here to purchase tickets.

The Challenges and the Joys of Directing The Last Five Years

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An Interview with Director Michael Berresse

By Cecilia Padilla

Michael Berresse came to A.C.T. in 2012 while performing in the national tour of The Normal Heart, and he is delighted to return to the Bay Area—this time as an accomplished director. “Looking back at my directorial career,” says Berresse, “I see that a number of shows I’ve worked on have had complicated or nonlinear structures. There’s something about the puzzle of them and the way my own mind works that draws me to that kind of material.” With its unique structure in which one character’s story is told from ending to beginning, and the other’s from beginning to end, The Last Five Years has been another puzzle for the director to solve. We sat down with Berresse to talk about the challenges and the joys of directing.

Director Michael Berresse in rehearsal for A.C.T.’s 2016 production
of The Last Five Years. Photo by Shannon Stockwell.
What’s it like being both an actor and a director?
I love them both for very different reasons. As an actor, my responsibility is more limited, and I can relate to an audience in a very visible, personal way. As a director, I have more comprehensive responsibility but without the direct relationship to an audience. Nevertheless, directing comes with a very different kind of personal investment and reward. And my experience with and empathy for the whole process of acting informs many things about the way I direct. For example, when I start a new project, it helps me to imagine how it might feel to speak the words or live the circumstances before I start exploring how to tell the story from the outside.

How are you bringing your music and dance experience to the show’s direction?
My experience as a musical theater actor makes me especially conscious of rhythm and movement, not just in terms of songs or steps, but also in terms of the story as a whole—the connective tissue, the transitions, the music of how the pieces fit together. In addition to its glorious individual elements, I think of the entirety of The Last Five Years as a dance that has a consistency and continuity all its own.

This musical has been produced many times. How do you go about making it feel original and fresh?
Whenever you look at telling a story, whether it’s a new idea altogether or something that’s been done many times, you have to invest in some relevant big-picture priority. Whether it’s friendship or freedom or loss or redemption, when I risk exposing those personal priorities in the context of a story, it shows up in the production in a unique and original way.

Specifically for The Last Five Years, I believe that regardless of how a love affair plays out, the risk is as important and powerful as the outcome. “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” as the adage goes. I hope to show a little nod toward the future in the arc of Cathy and Jamie’s relationship, a moment of perspective at the end of the play that’s not necessarily written in the text.

Why is Jason Robert Brown’s work so beloved and enduring?
I had the extraordinary experience of working with Jason while appearing in a production of Parade at the Mark Taper Forum. I will never forget the day he sat down at the piano in the rehearsal room and started playing his own music for us. He stopped being the composer/lyricist, the pianist, and he started being the music. He puts his whole soul into his work. I think the listener can feel that instinctively.

The Last Five Years is playing at The Geary Theater until June 5. Read more of our interview with Berresse, along with other articles about the cultural context of this musical, in Words on Plays.

The Music of The Last Five Years

Friday, May 20, 2016

By Shannon Stockwell

For musical theater actors, there’s something magnetic about the music of Jason Robert Brown. “If you studied musical theater any time after 2000, chances are you memorized the original cast recording of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years,” says Huffington Post journalist Suzy Evans. The composer’s work has such a gravitational pull on this peer group of musical theater enthusiasts that Evans refers to it as the “Jason Robert Brown generation.”

Just what is it about Brown’s music that has defined a generation? “Jason is a master of making pop-song forms work in a musical theater context,” says Matt Castle, music director for A.C.T.’s 2016 production of The Last Five Years, now running until June 5. “To me, pop music feels like a suspended, single feeling. But a theater song can’t be that, because there has to be something at risk in a scene, something that changes over the course of the song.” Brown’s music, Castle explains, has all of the infectious rhythm and groove of a pop song, but he uses the songs to move the story forward.

Brown’s composing process is largely instinctual and improvisational. “What I do first is I come up with a title, which I’ll generally throw out halfway through,” he said in a 1999 interview. “I have a title, and I’ll sit at the piano, and I’ll just come up with some chord that makes me happy, and I’ll sing the title.”

Musical theater scholar Ian Nisbet points out that, while Brown’s process may come from the heart, his musical instincts are actually very sophisticated. Just judging from the sheer difficulty of the music, Castle would agree that Brown’s music is highly intellectual. “Rhythmically, as flowing and natural and funky and groovy as it feels for the audience, it’s much easier for the audience to take it in than it is for the two actors to execute,” says Castle. “It seems so natural because the rhythms are all based on how a person speaks.”

To Castle, the most important device comes from the unique nonlinear structure of the musical. “Each of their stories starts with up-tempo songs and modulates toward an end point of reflective ballads,” he says. “When you cross the two streams, it means that there’s an alternation between ballads and up-tempo songs throughout the whole show, which is an ingenious way to create the variety that helps make each song distinct from the ones surrounding it.”

Castle points out that it’s hard to predict how Brown’s music will be remembered in musical theater cannon, because his body of work is so varied. “I don’t even know what kind of pattern I could form between Parade and 13 and The Bridges of Madison County and The Last Five Years,” Castle says. If Brown’s work can be labeled as eclectic, he’s also productive, and it will be intriguing to see what he creates in the next ten years. For the moment, however, there’s no denying that his music has staying power in the minds of everyone who hears it.

To learn more about the music in The Last Five Years , click here to purchase a printed or digital copy of Words on Plays, A.C.T.'s in-depth performance guide series. All proceeds go to our ACTsmart education programs, serving teachers and students throughout the Bay Area. 

The High School Musical and Cabaret Ensembles of the A.C.T. Young Conservatory present a celebration of Brown's solo work and musical numbers in Through the Years with Jason Robert Brown, May 20–23, in The Garret at The Geary Theater. 

An Interview with Actor Dan Clegg of Chester Bailey

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

By Shannon Stockwell

Marisa Duchowny (left) and Dan Clegg in A.C.T.'s
M.F.A. Program production of Once in a Lifetime 
in 2010. Photo by Kevin Berne. 
We are thrilled to welcome actor Dan Clegg back to A.C.T., where he will play the titular role in Joseph Dougherty’s Chester Bailey, premiering at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater on May 25. Clegg graduated from the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program in 2011, and he’s delighted to return and have the opportunity to portray this multifaceted and inspiring character. “The first time I read Chester Bailey, I just loved it,” says Clegg. “I thought the writing was excellent, and Chester Bailey is such a great role. The play really stayed with me.”

Just after Clegg got out of rehearsal, we spoke to him about his work on Chester Bailey and the challenging questions the play poses. 

How have rehearsals been going?

Rehearsals have been going well. We had a number of readings before we started, and David [Strathairn] and I had both done a lot of prep work, so we hit the ground running. We’ve got the basic shape of the play down. Now we’re experimenting and exploring.

Why do you think the play stuck with you?

It’s so beautifully written. When reading the play, I’m struck by the number of insightful comments about universal truths that are made in such poetic ways. Also, Joe’s written two great characters. Chester and Dr. Cotton have a complex relationship. The play is a great balance between two actors. It’s short, but the audience is taken to all sorts of different places. And the story is so moving and intense and reveals itself in a very compelling way.

What do you think this play says about the imagination?

When I tell my friends that I’m in this play, they ask, “What’s it about?” And I say, “I play this guy named Chester Bailey; he gets blinded by an oxyacetylene torch and he loses his eyes and an ear and his hands and he goes to a hospital, and he still believes he can see, so he’s sent to a mental hospital on Long Island, and then, believe it or not, things go from bad to worse.” [Laughs]

But despite that, the play is beautiful. Chester fights against those circumstances. He literally refuses to go to the dark place and heads toward the light. The strength with which he holds on to this reality he’s imagined for himself, and how he stitches it together and he justifies it—it’s inspiring.

It’s true; Chester’s delusion is a defense against reality. But would taking away his delusion be saving him or condemning him? His reality is that he’s lost his eyes and hands and whole family and he’s now stuck in a mental institution. By making him understand that reality, what are you really giving him?

What is imagination? What is its role? Chester Bailey wedges itself into the heart of this debate and challenges each point of view. That’s why the play stays with you.


Chester Bailey runs May 25 through June 12 at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. Click here to purchase tickets!

Twitter Volunteers at A.C.T.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

By Rose Oser

Last Friday I met my new best friends, a group of Twitter employees who signed up to volunteer at A.C.T. Their visit was part of “Friday for Good,” a Twitter-wide effort to give back to the community. According to one Tweep (their word, not mine), nearly 50 percent of Twitter employees participate, with volunteers at about a hundred different community sites worldwide.

Twitter Staff Software Engineer Nick Morgan
volunteers to paint A.C.T.'s rehearsal studios.
Photo by Rose Oser.  

This fine group of Tweeps had their own reasons for volunteering at A.C.T. Some like the arts, some have enjoyed A.C.T. shows, and some were hoping that volunteering at a theater would be less strenuous than raking leaves. We spent a few hours painting the rehearsal studios above A.C.T.’s administrative offices at 30 Grant Avenue and sewing at The Costume Shop.

When I greeted the group of Tweeps at the rehearsal studios, I was only planning on being there a few moments. But given that it was a Friday and I’m easily distracted, I thought it best to paint the rooms with them, rather than going back to work. The rooms were previously an off-white color, but we had the unique thrill of painting them “almond tree”—similar to off-white, but more positive. On-white, you could say. Sonia, one of my favorite Tweeps, asked for more colors and was ready to get creative. Unfortunately we had to stick with almond tree this time, but next year perhaps we can paint a mural.

After a quick tour of our offices and a rundown of next season’s A.C.T. productions, these friendly Tweeps invited me over to their place for lunch. We hopped in an Uber, passed by the new Strand Theater (lots of oohs and ahs), and then I checked into the building to start my first day of work at my new job. Just kidding, I love A.C.T. But holy twit, their office is amazing.

Rather than going into detail about the crab cakes, I will say that Twitter seems to be doing as much great community work as A.C.T. Katya is involved with Girls Who Code (a mentorship program for high school girls interested in computer science) and keeps in touch with people she has met through the program. All the Tweeps seemed genuinely excited about Neighbor Nest, a community center enabling low-income people to access technology, education, and training.

Twitter volunteers visit A.C.T. Photo by Rose Oser. 

While we ate our feast in the cafeteria, these tricky Tweeps suggested that I set up a Twitter account. I resisted at first, but the combination of camaraderie, ammonia from the painting, and Friday for Good spirit won me over. I am proud to say that I now have a Twitter account (and almost as many followers as Katya’s cat). Thanks to all the Tweeps who helped out—hope to see you at The Last Five Years this week!

Rose Oser writes grants for A.C.T. and also writes other words for things.

Black Orpheus Brings the Beats to the Bay Area

Monday, May 9, 2016

An Interview with Director Stephen Buescher

By Ariella Wolfe

Stephen Buescher, head of movement and physical theater for the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program, has been waiting for the opportunity to create a theatrical adaptation of Black Orpheus. While studying theater in Brazil, Buescher developed a strong connection to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice after seeing Marcel Camus’s 1959 film, Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus), an adaptation of the myth which takes place during the Brazilian festival of Carnaval

The cast of Black Orpheus in rehearsal. Photo by Beatriz Miranda-Torres. 

This week, Buescher gets the chance to bring Brazil to the Bay Area. Black Orpheus: Una Historia de Amor marks the first time that A.C.T. Stage Coach and the M.F.A. Program have collaborated on a production created specifically for a community tour. The relationships fostered between A.C.T. and the larger Bay Area community through the Stage Coach initiative have allowed for new partnerships and opportunities to share in theatrical experiences. Buescher shares some thoughts on the play and his own artistic process and perspective.

What was your inspiration for this production?

When I found out that the movie Orfeu Negro was based on a Brazilian play, I was determined to find an English translation. I read that the playwright, Vinícius de Moraes, saw the movie and didn’t like it, and now I see one reason why. His language in the play is so poetic, so specific, and in the movie it’s really colloquial. I’m drawn to the linguistics of the play, but the rhythms of the movie.

The musical core of the A.C.T. production is artists of African heritage and Afro-Lat
ina women: Cesária Évora, Virginia Rodrigues, and Iyeoka Okoawo. I want to follow the pulse of the source material and where that comes from.

What is it about Black Orpheus that makes it a good fit for a community tour?

I love that there are different cultural themes in the piece. I’m also glad there are students from Downtown High School who will be assisting me in rehearsals and that we can reach out to the community to invite them to create the scenery. We are also able to work with the [Brazilian dance] group Sambaxé to get the dance and song and rhythms going. The other thing is that I like street theater; this play is like street theater. Even if we’re indoors, hopefully it will feel like you can shout back and you don’t have to behave a certain way.

Are there specific cultural influences you hope to include in this production?

There will be a Brazilian cultural aspect. Some of the songs will be sung in Portuguese, and some will be in Spanish. Partially because we riffed off of a Spanish translation, there’s going to be more Spanish in the text than Portuguese. There will also be Greek influence from the original Orpheus and Eurydice myth, and African culture will inspire some of the movement and songs.

Why is multicultural theater particularly important?

For me it’s a necessary expression. There’s something about being in a place of a different culture, a different language that I have always loved. I love getting immersed in that. 

Black Orpheus: Una Historia de Amor is free and open to the public, no reservations necessary. See below for performance times: 

Sunday, May 8 at 1:30 pm: Persia Triangle (4650 Mission Street), Excelsior
With special appearances by Sambaxé Dance Company and Bateria Força Feminina.
Special performance by Cypress String Quartet at 4 pm.

Monday, May 9 at 7 pm: La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley

Thursday, May 12 at 7 pm: Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

Friday, May 13 at 6 pm: Mendell Plaza (1429 Mendell Street), Bayview
In collaboration with 3rd on Third, Bayview Opera House, and Carnaval SF.
With special appearances by Sambaxé Dance Company and Bateria Força Feminina.

Saturday, May 14 at 4 pm: Yerba Buena Gardens
In collaboration with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, A.C.T. celebrates the new SFMOMA.
With special appearances by Sambaxé Dance Company and Bateria Força Feminina.

Click here to join the Facebook event.

For a comprehensive study guide on Black Orpheus, click here!

Backstage Pass—Dance Class at A.C.T.

Friday, May 6, 2016

By Simon Hodgson 

“One, two, three, four,” calls out Corrine Nagata. “High parallel. Heel. Toe. High lateral!” A compact Japanese American in a sleeveless turquoise shirt and rubber-soled boots, Nagata pads around the rehearsal room, encouraging the dancers and watching calf muscles shake. Eleven students from A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Program are approaching the end of their first year. Last Friday, in a dance class open to the whole A.C.T. company, they completed a series of exercises as well as a prepared ensemble piece they’d been working on for a few weeks.

“You’re stretching like a beautiful rubber band,” says Nagata as the students execute cross-lunges. By the wall, A.C.T. staff and other M.F.A. Program students clap and click their fingers in admiration. On the floor, the black-clad dancers are sweating. “Long dancer’s necks,” says Nagata, exhorting now. “I need to see a dancer’s diagonal. Both shoulders!” When the music—Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”—cuts out, there is only the noise of feet pivoting on wooden floorboards and the exhalations as the students strain to hold a challenging position. At the end of the exercise, the dancers slump, hands on knees. “Everybody, go get some water quickly,” says Nagata. “You’ve got 30 seconds.”

For the last nine months, these students have woken early for classes in acting, physical theater, dance, Alexander Technique, voice, theater history, improv, singing, and theater analysis. Now they are nearing the end of year one, but Nagata is pushing them until the end. They gather to prepare for the finale, whispering instructions to each other. Nagata approaches the group and asks if they want one more run-through. “We got this,” says one of the students. A few of the dancers grin. The audience leans forward.

Come and see these M.F.A. Program actors appearing in Cardenio, The Rocky Horror Show, and Black Orpheus. The Spring Rep season starts at A.C.T. tonight and runs till May 15.

Jason Robert Brown Talks About The Last Five Years

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

By Simon Hodgson

Today, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop revolution Hamilton broke a Tony Award record with 16 nominations. Jason Robert Brown, composer of The Last Five Years, is encouraged by Hamilton’s success. “[American musical theater] feels like it’s branching off in (at least) two different directions,” says Brown. “There is the very corporate ‘entertainment’—musicals painted in broad strokes and designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, such as Aladdin and Finding Neverland. Then there is the very personal and cheerfully idiosyncratic approach, which brings us work like Fun Home and Hamilton. I don’t care a whole lot about the first branch, but that second branch is very exciting and that’s the kind of work I’ve been trying to do all along.”

This intention is apparent in The Last Five Years, which has its roots in Brown’s personal experiences of love and heartbreak. The result is a unique musical with an exuberant score that has remained in the hearts and minds of musical theater lovers worldwide. The Last Five Years opens at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater May 11 and runs through June 5. We caught up with Brown to talk musicals, marriage, and moving through time. 

Composer Jason Robert Brown. Photo by Scott Selman, 2014.

What was your thinking behind the reversed storytelling structure?

My main instinct when I started the piece was to write something for two singers, where they could alternate solo songs. I decided early on to have it be a love story, and once I decided that, I was stuck for how to tell the story, until I realized that if I had one character tell the story in reverse while the other told it chronologically, that would keep it more interesting than if I had them both moving in the same direction. When I made that decision I had no idea how much it would bring to the narrative; I’m very grateful for that particular flash of inspiration. I’m surely indebted to Merrily We Roll Along (always one of my favorite musicals) and to Tom Stoppard, whose work often plays with time in deeply emotionally resonant ways.

Your work pulls from multiple music genres. What’s your process in framing the storytelling through song?

I think of theater music like costumes—the minute a character puts on the music, it should help define that character. Cathy is an actress, so her music is a little more showbizzy and extroverted, while Jamie is a writer, so his music is more nerdy and complicated. Much of the show is about how their different ethnic and financial backgrounds affect their relationship, and that’s built into the music as well—Cathy’s Celtic roots peek through the texture of many of her songs, and Jamie’s Jewish DNA is coded into several of his pieces. Of course, there’s also enough overlap in their respective sounds to make them believe that they belong together.

Do you think Cathy and Jamie could have or should have saved their relationship?

No, I think they were both young enough to move on from something that was never going to make them both happy. Better to know at their age that they’re not suited for each other than to wait until the kids arrive, or the mortgage is due. I can’t speak for anyone else’s choices, but for these characters, I think they got into something before they really knew what that kind of commitment entailed. The next time, I’m pretty sure they were both much smarter and more realistic about the kind of work that partnering really requires.

To read more of our interview with Jason Robert Brown, look for the upcoming volume of Words on Plays. 
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