"The Last Five Years" with Guest Ralph Meranto

"The Last Five Years" with Guest Ralph Meranto

Sat, 10/12/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

From the Tony Award-winning composer of Parade, comes the recent off-Broadway hit musical that looks at love forward, backward and inside out. Emotionally powerful and hysterically funny, this inventive musical follows a couple during five years of their relationship. "His" story is told from beginning to end, while "Her" story is told from end to beginning, allowing the audience to see their past, present and future simultaneously.

Join Host Robert Hammond and his guest Ralph Meranto, Artistic Director of the Rochester Jewish Community Center’s CenterStage, as they discuss this avant-garde musical and other works by Jason Robert Brown.  Directed by Meranto, The Last Five Years is on stage at CenterStage through October 20. 

JASON ROBERT BROWN has been hailed as “one of Broadway’s smartest and most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim” (Philadelphia Inquirer), and his “extraordinary, jubilant theater music ” (Chicago Tribune) has been heard all over the world, whether in one of the hundreds of productions of his musicals every year or in his own incendiary live performances. The New York Times refers to Jason as “a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical.” Jason is the composer and lyricist of the musical, “The Last Five Years,” which was cited as one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best of 2001 and won Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics. Jason won a 1999 Tony Award for his score to “Parade“, a musical written with Alfred Uhry and directed by Harold Prince, which premiered at Lincoln Center Theatre in December 1998, and subsequently won both the Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best New Musical. “Parade” was also presented on a national tour in 2000, which Jason conducted. Jason’s first musical, “Songs for a New World,” a theatrical song cycle directed by Daisy Prince, played Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in the fall of 1995, and has since been seen in more than two hundred productions around the world. Jason’s newest musical, “13,” written with Dan Elish and directed by Todd Graff, premiered this January to rave reviews at Los Angeles’s Mark Taper Forum, and opens on Broadway in the spring of 2008. Jason is the winner of the 2002 Kleban Award for Outstanding Lyrics and the 1996 Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Foundation Award for Musical Theatre. Jason’s songs, including the cabaret standard “Stars and the Moon,” have been performed and recorded by Audra McDonald, Betty Buckley, Karen Akers, Renée Fleming, Philip Quast, Jon Hendricks and many others.

Jason’s first solo album, “Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes,” featuring his band The Caucasian Rhythm Kings, was named one of Amazon.com’s best of 2005, and is available from Sh-K-Boom Records. His collaboration with singer Lauren Kennedy, “Songs of Jason Robert Brown,” is available on PS Classics. Jason’s piano sonata, “Mr. Broadway” was commissioned and premiered by Anthony De Mare at Carnegie Hall. Also in the wings: an musical adaptation of the 1992 film “Honeymoon in Vegas,” in collaboration with screenwriter/director Andrew Bergman. Jason is also the composer of the incidental music for David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Kimberly Akimbo” and “Fuddy Meers,” Marsha Norman’s “Last Dance,” David Marshall Grant’s “Current Events,” Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery,” and the Irish Repertory Theater’s production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” and he was a Tony Award nominee for his contributions to the score of “Urban Cowboy the Musical.” His scores are published by Hal Leonard. Jason currently teaches musical theater performance and composition at the University of Southern California.

As a conductor and arranger, Jason’s recent New York credits include “Urban Cowboy the Musical” on Broadway; Oliver Goldstick’s play, “Dinah Was,” directed by David Petrarca, at the Gramercy Theatre and on national tour; and William Finn’s “A New Brain,” directed by Graciela Daniele, at Lincoln Center Theater. Jason was the musical director of the pop vocal group, The Tonics, with whom he performed at the 1992 tribute to Stephen Sondheim at Carnegie Hall (recorded by RCA Victor); he was the conductor and orchestrator of Yoko Ono’s musical, “New York Rock,” at the WPA Theatre (on Capitol Records); and he orchestrated Andrew Lippa’s “john and jen,” Off-Broadway at Lamb’s Theatre (Varese Sarabande). In 1994, Jason was the conductor and arranger of Michael John LaChiusa’s “The Petrified Prince,” directed by Harold Prince, at the Public Theatre. Additionally, Jason served as the orchestrator and arranger of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’s score for a proposed musical of “Star Wars.” Jason also took over as musical director for the Off-Broadway hit “When Pigs Fly.” Jason has conducted and created arrangements and orchestrations for Liza Minnelli, John Pizzarelli, Tovah Feldshuh, and Laurie Beechman, among many others.

Jason studied composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with Samuel Adler, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner. He now divides his time between Los Angeles, California and Spoleto, Italy. Jason is a proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 & 47.

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