(Above: Lexy Neale and Esack Francis Grueskin star in Pegasus Playhouse’s The Last Five Years.)

By Randi Bjornstad

Pegasus Playhouse ends its 2023-24 season with an off-Broadway musical written by Jason Robert Brown. It’s the dissection of a five-year relationship between a young novelist named Jamie Wellerstein and a young, trying-to-get-a-break actress named Cathy Hiatt.

It’s a story, but it also is a glimpse into the real-life failure of Brown’s own marriage to actress Theresa O’Neill, although Brown later said it was not autobiographical.

In fact, however, after the couple’s divorce, O’Neill did sue Brown, saying that the musical disparaged their relationship and violated their non-disclosure agreements. Brown in turn counter-sued, saying that her suit violated his right to his creative process and creative outcome.

In the end, the fracas was settled with Brown’s agreement not to mention in the play that the female character, Cathy Hiatt, is Irish Catholic, as O’Neill is, and to change the name of a song, originally called I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You to Shiksa Goddess, using a Yiddish term for a gentile female (Brown is Jewish), to further mask the identities of the original inspirations for the roles.

Perhaps the most interesting and innovative part of the musical is that the story is told in two directions — Jamie looks at the relationship from the beginning to the end and Cathy backwards from the end to the beginning — with a meeting in the middle corresponding to his proposal of marriage and her acceptance, epitomized by the song, The Next Ten Minutes.

At the end, from their differing vantage points, Cathy sings “goodbye until tomorrow,” while Jamie sings, “goodbye.”

Although the play appeared off-Broadway only for a few months in 2002, it has been produced frequently worldwide, including in the United States as well as Canada, Korea, Japan, The Philippines, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

The Last Five Years at Pegasus Playhouse

When: Evenings at 7 p.m. on June 22, 28, and 29; matinees at 3 p.m. on June 23 and 30

Where: Pegasus Playhouse, 402 Main St., downtown Springfield

Tickets: Adults $20; students K-12, $15, available at the door or online at

Information: 615-300-4807, pegasusplayhouse@gmail.com, or online at pegasusplayhouse.com