Modern, two-person musical comes to University of Illinois

By Shane Leturgey

Opening Thursday night and running through Sunday, a modern musical is coming to Smith Hall. The newly established Independent Theatre Ensemble presents the award-winning “The Last Five Years.”

Composed by the nationally acclaimed Jason Robert, this musical was produced off-Broadway in 2000, and received good critical reports. The musical consists of a two-person cast and illustrates the story of a young couple’s relationship.

The two characters, Jamie and Cathy, share only one scene together. Starting at opposite ends of their relationship, they alternate scenes. Working their way to the middle of the story, where they come together at their wedding to share one final song.

Ben Jones, senior in LAS, plays the main role of Jamie. Jones recently returned from a trip to New York where he spent from November 2004 to May 2005 working on a variety of productions, including a rendition of “Cats.”

“New York was amazing, but this musical has been a lot of fun,” Jones said. “The crew is great, and it is good to be back performing in front of people I know.”

Morgan Dietkus, a senior in acting at Illinois State University, plays the role of Cathy.

“I was walking through Smith Hall and saw the flier for auditions, so I went for it,” Dietkus said. “It has been a fun and exciting experience working with people from a different school. The entire crew is just great, and we have all grown really close.”

Also part of the cast is Katie Blomquisty, sophomore in ACES, as the understudy to the role of Cathy.

“In the taxing role of Cathy, Katie has put in a lot of work,” Jones said. “She is really good and will see stage time.”

Ryan Fant, senior in Business, is directing the play.

Fant, along with his brother, Kellen, sophomore in FAA, and friend, Matt Faherety, junior in Engineering, were not only the co-creators of the Independent Theatre Ensemble, but they believed in “The Last Five Years” so much that they put forth about $2,000 of their own money to make this production happen.

“We created the Independent Theatre Ensemble so that we would have more freedom in what types of productions we could bring to the University,” Fant said. “Our main goal was to bring this different and interesting musical to the UI students. It is an excellent production, and we feel it will really appeal to a variety of individuals.”

Upon hearing about this musical, Emily Sha, freshman in LAS, became intrigued.

“It is different than most plays put on around here,” Sha said. “It is more modern and sounds really interesting.”