First City Players' first on-stage musical of 2021 — and since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic — is perfectly suited to a pandemic.
With a cast of only two persons, "The Last Five Years" follows the characters of Kathy and Jamie as they retell the story of their five-year relationship.
FCP Executive Director Elizabeth Nelson recently spoke to the Daily News about the show, explaining why it is unique — Kathy's version of the story begins at the end of the relationship, and Jamie's account from the beginning.
"We're watching their lives interact together, only one of them is being told from the end of the relationship going toward the beginning of it, while the other character starts at the beginning of the relationship and moves to the end of the relationship," Nelson explained.
Nelson said that "The Last Five Years" is the perfect pandemic production, as the cast is made up of only two actors — Jillian Pollock as Kathy, and Kyle G. Bailey as Jamie.
Bailey and Pollock already reside together, and thus, are in each other's "household bubbles," eliminating concerns of interhousehold mingling.
With Bailey and Pollock comprising the cast, the show is "allowing us to have, like, a tiny little taste of normalcy, but do it very safely," said Nelson.
"It's a very, very simple tale of a relationship and how people's lives can connect and what can pull them apart," Nelson said.
FCP had originally planned to debut the show in November, but COVID-19 concerns sidelined the performance through 2020.
Opening night was Friday at Ketchikan High School, with shows to follow at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, as well as on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23.
Nelson said that "The Last Five Years" differs from a typical fall musical, which could include a cast of up to 35 people.
Nelson did comment that the unique way the story is told — from dueling points of view — might be tricky to set up on a stage.
Communicating that unique idea is an "interesting and fun little puzzle to be working with," she said.
Pollock, a teacher at Houghtaling Elementary School, also spoke to the Daily News about the production.
"It's a beautiful show," Pollock said, praising the small ensemble of musicians, which includes Chazz Gist, Austin Hays, Rachel Schoenfeld and Jamie Karlson.
Pollock has been involved with four previous FCP productions since moving to Ketchikan in 2015.
Her previous roles include Miss Andrews in "Mary Poppins" and Ursula in the "Little Mermaid."
"And so, I was getting quite used to playing the evil characters, until I was cast in 'Cabaret' as an ensemble member," Pollock recalled.
After "Cabaret," she portrayed the character of Rose in "The Secret Garden."
Even though "The Last Five Years" will be her fifth time on the FCP stage, it's her first with a small cast.
"I'm so used to the fall musicals being big community events and that's something that I really love about them," Pollock said. "But just like everything else these days, COVID has given us an opportunity to try things differently or to be creative and to experience new things."
Pollock said that working alongside Bailey has been a "really beautiful and intimate experience."
"It was a really comfortable experience for him and I to rehearse in," she said of doing rehearsals at home, which safely limited interaction with FCP staff or the team of musicians.
Nelson noted that "The Last Five Years" is not necessarily a show for young viewers.
Nelson said this was due to "just the themes that go through the show, about relationships and how people interact and what they're doing."
The performance contains strong language and situational themes that are not suitable for children, Nelson said, noting that the film version is rated PG-13.
Tickets will not be available at the doors. Tickets can be obtained by emailing, calling or using social media to contact FCP directly.
Individuals will be seated with their household or social bubbles.
The show will not have an intermission, and FCP discourages gathering in the lobby before or after the performance.