Westmont senior Ben Offringa stars and directs in Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years,” a story of a couple’s rocky, five-year relationship, March 21-23 at 8 p.m. in Porter Theatre. Tickets to the performance, which is a fundraiser for the Westmont Choir’s Lithuania tour in May, cost $14; $7 for students and seniors.
Offringa and senior co-star Paige Tautz discovered “The Last Five Years” during their first year at Westmont. “We loved the music immensely, but didn’t yet have the skills necessary to stage a full-fledged production of the show,” Offringa says. “But through our training and growth in both the theater and music departments over the last four years, I felt we were finally both ready to take on this beast of a two-person, no intermission, hour-and-a-half musical.”
Junior Luke Mizuki directs the music of the play, which features two interweaving storylines, one moving forward, the other backward.
“The best part about directing this piece has been watching it come to life in a way I could have never anticipated,” Offringa says. “Paige and I have jumped right into the script after our successful reboot of ‘Pirates of Penzance’ on that has allowed us to maintain the vocal strength necessary to carry a show of this size.”
Being an actor and director in the same show has created additional challenges. “As a director, my job is to be the outside eye that can identify and reshape images on the stage that those involved cannot easily see,” he says. “As a result, John Blondell has been a tremendous help in attending several rehearsals, presenting a sort of mirror to me through his eyes.”
Offringa directed “The Musical of Musicals (the Musical!)” at Westmont in 2013. He has starred in nearly every Westmont theatrical production during his four years, including “Pirates,” “Electra,” “Platinum Circle,” “Much Ado,” “Animal Farm,” “The Servant of Two Masters” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”
Tautz has performed in “Pirates,” “Electra,” “Platinum Circle,” “Musical of Musicals,” “Much Ado,” “Animal Farm,” “Peer Gynt,” and “Servant of Two Masters.”