Syracuse Stage has some star power behind its next production … not on stage, but rather in the director’s seat. Jason Alexander is directing the musical, The Last Five Years. While many know him for T-V acting roles, Alexander has an extensive list of credits from the theater.
That includes directing other musicals, including Damn Yankees, The Fantasticks, and others.
He’s added some aspects to The Last Five Years, which is normally presented with just two characters on stage.
“What I have done is taken the two main characters and given them shadow figures. So no actor ever performs a song without someone else to engage with, which immediately makes these monologues into scenes and opens up all kinds of staging possibilities.”
He notes no one, to his knowledge, has tried staging the play adding action or other performers to the scenes. He got permission from playwright Jason Robert Brown -- whom he calls one of the ‘gods’ of musical theater -- to experiment with a more theatrical staging of the play.
Syracuse Stage Artistic Director Robert Hupp says it’s the fit time Syracuse Stage is producing The Last Five Years. He added it to the current season as a way to work with Alexander, whom he’s known for several years and worked with in the past.
“In my conversations with Jason, he thought this would be a great project for us to tackle. This is Jason’s first gig here at Syracuse Stage. I have great respect for Jason; I’ve enjoyed our relationship over the several years. And so it’s our privilege to welcome Jason, along with an amazing cast and creative team.”
Alexander says he actually likes directing more than acting at times, because of the artistic challenge and depth.
He had a little fun with reporters when asked if his T-V career opened up opportunities.
“Are you familiar with the Seinfeld program (laughs). It made a lot of money. Of course, so to have a film and television and directing career, and all the other stuff, and then to be on something that becomes a Seinfeld? It opens a lot of doors and it enables you to walk by a lot of doors without thinking about it.”
At the same time, he admits a degree of type-casting, after his character of George on Seinfeld might have limited the acting roles he’s been offered. Alexander began rehearsals for The Last Five Years Tuesday … It opens May 29th at Syracuse Stage.