Notes from New York, the concert series promoting the work of contemporary musical theatre composers, will celebrate its fifth anniversary this autumn with a gala staging of American Jason Robert Brown’s acclaimed song cycle The Last Five Years at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket. Series regulars Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer will perform the two-hander for one night only on 12 October 2008.

Launched in 2003, Notes from New York began by providing a West End showcase for American talent such as Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lippa and the late Jonathan Larson (See News, 9 Oct 2003). After five concerts of US material, the company presented Not(es) from New York, featuring the music of British composer Charles Miller and Grant Olding, and created a seasonal show, Christmas in New York, which has been running for the past two years. The most recent concert in the continuing series, Notes in Heels, focused on female composers from New York.

First seen in Chicago in 2001, The Last Five Years was staged Off-Broadway in 2002 and received its UK premiere at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory two years ago (See News, 21 Jun 2006). Robert Brown’s other credits include the Tony Award-winning Parade, which had its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse last year, and Songs for a New World, which won a Whatsonstage.com Award after its UK premiere at the Bridewell Theatre in 2001. His most recently musical, 13, opens in New York later this year.

The Last Five Years traces a marital breakdown over five years, with the husband, newly published novelist Jamie, starting at the couple’s first meeting and ending in the present, and by the wife, aspiring actress Cathy, working backwards from the break-up.

Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer are both associate artists of the Notes from New York series, which Spicer also co-founded. Atherton’s other West End credits include Avenue Q and Mamma Mia!, while Spicer’s include Taboo and The Witches of Eastwick.

- by Terri Paddock