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Poetry Friday: Climbing Uphill by Jason Robert Brown

July 11th, 2008 (08:08 am)

Current Mood: determined
Current Song: Climbing Uphill from The Last Five Years

I'm up every morning at six
And standing in line
With two hundred girls
Who are younger and thinner than me
Who have already been to the gym

I'm waiting five hours in line
And watching the girls
Just coming and going
In dresses that look just like this
'Til my number is finally called

- selected lyrics from Climbing Uphill from the musical The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown

This song is sung by Cathy, an aspiring actress. The piece mixes together her auditions, her frustrations, and her inner thoughts. It's fantastic. Read the lyrics to the entire song. (WARNING: This song contains one curse word. I substitute the word "stupid" in its place when I sing this song. It works.)

The original Chicago production of The Last Five Years featured Lauren Kennedy and Norbert Leo Butz. I watched it online a few years ago and loved it. (Learn more about my love for this production.) Sadly, those videos seem to be gone now.

Clips from many other productions (college, regional, community, etcetera) are available online. Here's one stellar example: Colleen Ballinger's performance of Climbing Uphill.

Last year, one Poetry Friday, I posted lyrics from Moving Too Fast, another song from The Last Five Years.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

Consult the Poetry Friday roundup schedule at Big A little a.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.


Posted by: emohawk9000 (emohawk9000)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)

I saw the London premiere production back in 2006 and it was wonderful. This is a show that bothers me in the sense that I love it a lot but it's also the most depressing show I can think of. Even Les Miz has a happy ending.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
Poison Ink

Who was in the London production? I believe I've heard some of their singing clips on YouTube as well. How was the set decorated? I like the original - basic, almost bare bones.

Posted by: emohawk9000 (emohawk9000)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)

The London show had Damian Humbley and Lara Pulver (the latter assumed the role of Lucille Frank when the Donmar did their new production of PARADE last year... or was it earlier this year..I forget). They were both excellent in the roles.

The set was very minimal with just a few set pieces moved on and off as needed. Their bed became the boat for "The Next Ten Minutes," a coatrack suggested a vestibule, etc. I've heard of this being staged so that the two are never on stage at the same time except for the wedding. However, in London, the two often interacted in numbers, even if the one not singing didn't say anything. (For instance, in "See I'm Smiling," they're actually sitting together and she eventually starts yelling at him as he sits and takes it. When he indicates he has to leave, he doesn't say a word but conveys it through gestures.) It would be interesting to see how a production is handled where they're never on stage except for the wedding.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)

<< I've heard of this being staged so that the two are never on stage at the same time except for the wedding. >>

That's how I would stage it. I believe that's how they staged the original Chicago production. I think they kept the same outfits on for the entire show with the exceptions of The Next Ten Minutes and No One Needs to Know. Jackets were added at the end and the beginning, I think. Oh, maybe a robe for The Schmuel Song.

Posted by: emohawk9000 (emohawk9000)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)

I was asked to direct this once (and I knew a guy who would have made an AMAZING Jamie) so I put a lot of thought into how I'd stage it. I never came to a conclusion, though, on how they should share the stage. Part of me really likes the symbolism of them never sharing the stage and part of me likes what I saw in London, where even when they're within feet of each other, they're not talking. In the end, the timing didn't work out and I had to turn it down. Still don't know what I would have done.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)

Oh, I'm so sorry that you had to pass on it! I hope the opportunity comes your way again in the future. If I ever have the chance to stage it or be in it, I'll let you know!

Posted by: Karnell Knowledge (cricketnyc)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
damn skippy

One word of wisdom, since I think I have now seen 2 dozen young women use this as an audition piece or in a one-woman show... if you are not wearing a dress, it looks mighty silly to sing "wearing dresses that look just like this" and gesture to your jeans and tunic or skirt and blouse. Pisses me off every.single.time. Just change "this" to "mine" and it works and you don't distract the listener, who, if she's like me, is thinking, "all those girls have dresses that look like jeans and a tee shirt? The hell...?"

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)

Yes! I completely agree! :) I have yet to use this in an audition, and I've yet to audition for this show, but someday . . .

Posted by: angelrachel (angelrachel)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
close my eyes

I was reading one of my favourite poem last night, before bed. So I thought I'd share it with you: http://www.slate.com/?id=13105

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)

Oh, that was lovely! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. My favorite portion - other than the ending - would be, "But now if they should speak,
If on a sudden they should speak again..." Wow.

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