An Interview with Sophie Dushko and Anthony Gervais of Last Five Years Coming Soon to the Off-Central Players

This is the Off-Central Player’s first musical and this emotionally powerful and intimate musical sprinkled with humor is perfect for the space.

The story

Starring Sophie Dushko and Anthony Gervais, The Last Five Years tells the bittersweet tale of a brief marriage between two young artists. The storytelling is non-linear: Cathy, a struggling actor, starts her tale at the end of the marriage, working backward through the timeline. Jamie, a literary prodigy, begins his at the onset of the relationship. The two narratives intersect on their wedding day before diverging again to arrive at the beginning, and end, of their five years together. With music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown, this nearly sung-through musical has captivated audiences and critics, earning a Drama Desk Award (music and lyrics), a film adaptation, and productions around the world.

Directed by Dushko & Gervais

Music Direction by Chris Kinney

What has been the journey that has brought you to Studio Grand Central and The Off-Central Players?
Anthony: I am originally from St. Pete, and started my journey as a theatre artist here. I went to college in Boston, spent a few years living in Chicago and New York, and just recently moved back to Florida. I was fortunate enough to come on board as the Studio’s House Manager last fall, and I immediately knew it was a space I wanted to work in, and a great space for a musical. 
Sophie: Anthony and I met in college where we did a few plays together and actually started dating our senior year (ironically, five years ago…). Creative collaboration has always been a pillar of our relationship, so when he pitched me the idea of doing The Last Five Years I was immediately on board, even though I was living in Montreal at the time. 
You and Sophie Dushko are performing and directing this “The Last Five Years” production. How does that unique process work?
Sophie: Well, the good thing is we share an artistic sensibility and language, so we knew from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be a typical, naturalistic production because that’s just not us. We settled on a concept early on that elevates the theatricality of the material while deconstructing the relationship at its center. Anthony worked with the local musicians before rehearsals started and we each spent time with the script and score, coming up with ideas for moments or whole songs to play with once rehearsals started. 
Anthony: Once Sophie arrived in St. Pete, rehearsals were a lot of trial and error; many of the ideas we implemented started off as one of us saying “this might be crazy, but what if…”. The structure of the show, which is mostly solo songs, also allowed us the freedom to step out and direct each other when we weren’t onstage.
What are you hoping the audience will experience with your production of The Last Five Years”?
Sophie: Our production is part rock concert, part anniversary party, and part a whole host of other things you may not typically find in a musical. While it may not be the most traditional production, we hope the heart of the show still shines through and resonates with audiences. The musical touches on so many colors of this relationship and Jason Robert Brown’s music is so beautiful and playful and heartbreaking, we hope audiences will feel it all and have a theatrical experience unlike any they’ve had before. 
Studio Grand Central is located at 2260 1st Ave S., St. Petersburg. But can you tell us who the Off-Central Players are? What are their artistic goals?
Anthony: The Off-Central Players were founded by Ward Smith & Karen Riffe, a brother-sister team who produce plays, musicals, concerts, and comedy in a wonderfully intimate setting. The Last Five Years is their first musical production, and marks the end of their first full season, which also included world premieres and works by local playwrights. 

Would you describe the value of Studio Grand Central and the Off-Central Players’ presence in St Petersburg and the larger Theatre Tampa Bay community?

Anthony: The Studio Grand Central is my favorite kind of space – intimate, flexible, and inviting. It allows for bold, in your face theatre as well as quiet, cozy concerts and everything in between. The Off Central Players are willing to take risks, produce new works, and reimagine old ones – which makes them an invaluable new member of the Tampa Bay area theater community.

Weekly E-News

Share this Page