JASON Robert Brown’s innovative Drama Desk Award-winning musical is currently a cult favourite in the UK, but with the imminent release of a new cinematic version it may reach a wider audience.

Before all the silver screen hype begins, the Greenwich Theatre has teamed up with production company As Told By to stage the show in the UK for one last time, including a brief stay at the Brighton Fringe.

The Last Five Years details a relationship from both sides of the story – with the male wannabe novelist Jamie starting from their first meeting, and his struggling actress partner Cathy working backwards through time from after they have broken up.

“It’s like a one-woman show and a one-man show that meet in the middle,” says Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope, who has left the yellow brick road and the role of Eponine in Les Misérables behind to play Cathy.

“It is so well-written. It takes you on an amazing emotional journey, with the mood constantly changing from song to song.”

The only time Hope and her co-star Jon Robyns share a stage is when Jamie proposes and they get married.

“The audience come away from the show piecing it together and experiencing the emotional journey,” says Robyns, who last appeared in Brighton as part of the Spamalot cast. His CV includes West End roles in Les Misérables and the original London production of Avenue Q.

“It’s very clever in juxtaposing the miserable and the elated at the same time – the show feels bittersweet all the way through. The only bit of light is in the centre when they get married.

“Almost every song is a soliloquy – either an internal monologue to the audience or performed to an imaginary character. In rehearsals we are working with the other actor in front of us, so we can get the feel of how it is to talk directly to somebody.”

Both were already fans of the show – Hope had a copy of the soundtrack at college and used Brown’s songs in showcases and revues. Meanwhile Robyns saw a 2006 production in London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, starring Lara Pulver and Damian Humbley – admitting they are big boots to fill.

“I’m a massive fan of the show,” he says.

“It’s a real inspiration for how shows should be constructed and how imaginative they can be, especially with the jukebox musicals that were coming out at the same time.”

For the Brighton shows, the intimacy of the story is set to be underlined by the sole piano backing from musical director Michael Riley.

When The Guide spoke to them, the pair were on a break from the early stages of rehearsals with director Katie Pesskin, ahead of yesterday’s opening night in Greenwich.

“We did the whole thing chronologically so we could get a feel of what the world of the relationship would be like – it was really helpful figuring it out,” says Hope.

“You have to keep in your time frame. When I finish my opening song, Still Hurting, I have to stand in the wings and hear Jamie sing about his Shiksa Goddess at the start of the relationship.

“It’s about keeping your own energy so the dynamic shift is clear between the songs. We don’t want to spoonfeed the audience – we let them discover it in their own way.”

  • The Last Five Years is at The Warren, Russell Place, Brighton, from Wednesday, May 21, to Saturday, May 24 (not Friday). Starts Wednesday and Thursday 7.30pm, Saturday 4pm, £11/£9.50. Call 01273 917272.