Nancy J. McClymont is infused with energy about a few things. For starters, there is the passion for her hometown of San Jose. A San Josean since the age of two who grew up in the Berryessa neighborhood, McClymont has spent many years working on different stages at various theatres the South Bay houses.
The second thing she is passionate about is her fledgling theatre company, which she has founded. San Jose’s newest company, entitled i.e. Presents, is McClymont’s baby, a company dedicated to creating an artistic collaborative that gives unique opportunities to those talented folks who may not have found their niche in other, larger companies.
“Our hope is, like an independent film company, we find projects that provide opportunities for artists,” said McClymont. “We have a lot of really big ideas in a really tiny company.”
One of those big ideas is one of the smallest musicals possible, the first show for the ambitious company. “The Last Five Years,” written by composer Jason Robert Brown, opens Friday, May 23rd at the venerable and intimate Theatre on San Pedro Square, directed by McClymont. The show has something of a cult following, written twelve years ago and performed off-Broadway back in 2002 after its Illinois premiere a year prior. Both premieres featured Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz Furthermore, a new film adaptation is in the works starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.
The piece is both challenging, as Brown’s music often is, and pragmatic. Costuming two characters in a show with costumes that span recent decades certainly is easy on the pocketbook for a company limited in resources.
“There are not many shows you can do with a limited set and uncomplicated costumes, small budget and no rehearsal space,” said McClymont. “We can do that because it’s such a small scale production.”
The story follows the roller coaster relationship of lovers Cathy Hiatt (Catherine Brady) and Jamie (David Jackson) as they experience their love and loss from two different perspectives. With Cathy, it is from the end of their relationship. With Jamie, it is the beginning, when he first meets her and becomes suddenly smitten. The unique part of the show is that there is only one scene that takes place between Jamie and Cathy, when their paths cross in the middle of their relationship. So this is as close to a one-person musical as there is.
It’s a style that takes some getting used to for sure, yet Brady is certainly not foreign to the show. She has been listening to the show for the better part of 10 years, which for her, feels like one long rehearsal.
“The music tells so much of the story, and I would often imagine what it would be like to play that role,” said Brady, who also grew up in San Jose. “It’s a role I’ve been preparing for 10 years, and now I’m doing it in my hometown, which is very, very cool.”
So much of what needs to happen amongst Brady and Jackson is connection. Yet, it’s not a connection that pays off in conventional ways. For a love story with only one scene amongst the lovers, the setup leading to that moment needs to be sharp, and the payoff needs to be huge. Any concern Brady had about finding the organic passion necessary was removed quickly as she and Jackson became fast friends.
“(David) has a very welcoming personality, and very quickly off the bat, we were mindful of the fact we had to create chemistry,” said Brady. “We’ve been to each others rehearsals and we see the logic behind these choices. I’ve been on stage with him without talking. These are the types of things that have helped me learn who these characters are.”
In addition, McClymont is hopeful her hometown can learn more about who this theatre company is.
“This is an incredible show and it deserves to be seen,” said McClymont. “San Jose deserves to see this. It’s the main reason why we are doing it.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
i.e. Presents – “The Last Five Years”
Written by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Nancy McClymont
May 23rd – June 1st
Tickets range from $20 – $55
Theatre on San Pedro Square
29 N. San Pedro St.
San Jose, CA 95113
For more information, visit the official website.
Tickets can be purchased here. Use the code JRB20 for $20 tickets for shows on Saturday and Sunday, May 24th and 25th