Katherine Strohmaier

by Molly Gilmore for OLY ARTS

The Last Five Years, opening Aug. 18 at Harlequin Productions’ State Theater, tells the story of a relationship told from beginning to end—and from end to beginning.

The Jason Robert Brown musical opens with Cathy (Katherine Strohmaier) singing about the end of her marriage. Then Jamie (Aaron Lamb) sings about their first meeting. The two characters are each on their own journey, interacting only in the middle of the show in a song about their wedding.

If the musical-—which opened off-Broadway in 2002 and was made into a movie in 2015—-is a definite departure from traditional theater models, this production is particularly novel.

Both Lamb, a Harlequin mainstay as both actor (The Language Archive) and director (Hedda Gabler) and Strohmaier, an adjunct professor at Cornish College who’s performed at 5th Avenue Theatre and sung with the Seattle Symphony, have offstage roles, too: They’re the show’s musical directors and its musicians.

Using minimal costuming, simple sets and projections to set the scene, the production will focus on the heart of each character’s story.

“We’ll have a grand piano on stage, and they will literally be accompanying each other,” said Linda Whitney, the show’s director and Harlequin’s co-artistic director. “And sometimes, they’ll be at the piano together.”

What: The Last Five Years

Where: Harlequin Productions’ State Theater, 202 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 18-20 and 24-27 and Sept. 1-3 and 8-10; 2 p.m. Aug. 21 and 28 and Sept. 3

How much: $25-$41 (the Aug. 24 performance is pay-what-you-can)

Get tickets: 360-786-0151 / harlequinproductions.org