Jen Rankin, Senior Production Apprentice at Penobscot Theatre Company, interviews the stars of “The Last Five Years,” Brianne Beck and Dominick Varney
The Last Five Years is a story about a relationship between two people, Jamie and Cathy. Those of us at the theatre know you two have been friends since high school. Did you hit it off from the start?
Dominick: It’s hard to believe that Brianne and I have been best friends for almost 25 years. I’m not sure what exactly drew us together, whether it was our senses of humor and how we seemed to feed off of each other in endless laughter (and still do), or the fact that we both aren’t from Maine and found support and joy in being different. Or perhaps it was that fact that we both loved to sing. All I know is that we DID hit it off from the start and I can’t imagine there ever being an end.
Brianne: Definitely. Two teenagers with big teeth, big voices and big hearts = Best friends for life
List three adjectives that best describe
D: Loyal, organized, and determined
B: giving, caring, dependable
(b) Each other:
D: Thoughtful, talented, funny, beautiful, honest, smart, and athletic (you didn’t think I was going to use just 3 did you?)
B: loyal, funny, honest
What elements of your relationship do you see in the relationship at the center of this show?
D: At the end of the day, Cathy and Jamie loved each other. They found joy in each other’s company and hope in each other’s dreams. I think Brianne and I do the same. I look forward to all of Brianne’s triumphs and I am there to support and cheer her on each time. Cathy and Jamie just could figure out who was cheering for who and when. Telling our stories separately in this piece is challenging and scary, but the moment we get to see each other and look into one another’s eyes there is such relief, trust, and comfort in my soul… and it’s Brianne.
B: Trust, communication, humor, faithfulness. I think most romantic relationships have a foundation in friendship and many of those traits carry from one to the other.
How have you prepared for a role many regard as the most challenging in modern musical theatre?
D: Vocally: Tina and Phil Burns have been amazing vocal coaches in preparation for this journey. We couldn’t do this without them. Physically: Planet Fitness! Emotionally: Wine, white wine.
B: This is the first show that I have received vocal coaching for prior to rehearsals and all I can say is thank God for Tina Burns! She has helped me to sing this challenging vocal part with ease and confidence. Also….lots of wine.
Complete this sentence: Love is…
D: wasn’t that a song by Brian McKnight and Vanessa Williams? – Brianne and I probably sang that in the car years ago! anyway… back to, “love is… sitting next to a person in complete silence but hearing every word”
B: a battlefield
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
D: That people come into our lives for a reason and we take what we need from them. I hope people leave cherishing the time that they have with those in their lives right now. Enjoy and relish in the journey that you are on right now and know that when it IS time to start a new journey, it is those you are with NOW (and in your past) that have given you the strength to do it.
B: As with any show, I hope the audience finds something in the performances and story-telling that they can relate to and that sticks with them long after the show has closed. Maybe it’s a feeling of hope, maybe it’s a feeling of “what if…”, or maybe it’s something completely different….just as long as they feel. Then we’ve done our job.