Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Unveils Cast for the Upcoming Musical The Last Five Years

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Center Valley, PA: May 7, 2024—Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Artistic Director Jason King Jones announces the cast for the upcoming production of The Last Five Years, running from June 12 to June 30 in the Schubert Theatre at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

The Last Five Years, referred to as a “two-hander,” will feature actors Benjamin Lurye and Chani Werely portraying the characters Jamie and Cathy, respectively. Both members of the Actors’ Equity Union, Lurye’s recent roles include Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza at Houston’s Opera in the Heights, Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd at Theatre Under the Stars, and Max in A Comedy of Tenors at Bristol Riverside Theatre. Werely’s regional credits include roles at Signature Theatre, Folger Theatre, Kennedy Center, and most recently Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Olney Theatre Center.

Directing the production is Jason King Jones, PSF’s artistic director who directed last season’s highly lauded The Tempest. Both Luyre and Werely were known to Jones from his tenure as senior associate artistic director at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where he was also artistic director of the National Players, the country’s longest-running touring theater company. “The music director (Walter “Bobby” McCoy) and I have a prior relationship with the actors,” Jones shared. “That mutual trust comes in handy, especially with a two-person show.”

McCoy, a noted Helen Hayes Award-wining musical director, who directed last season’s PSF production of In the Heights, brings his expertise from a long resume of productions including recent projects in New York of Xanadu and The World Goes ‘Round (The Mac-Haydn Theatre). Select upcoming projects include The Drowsy Chaperone (Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre) and Beautiful (Olney Theatre Center).

The Last Five Years will perform in the Festival’s intimate Schubert Theatre. “This show makes a lot of sense there,” said Jones. “The actors along with several musicians will be visible to the audience during the entire show. They’re part of the architecture.” Jones added, “It’s the perfect scale. The Festival is fortunate to have two theatres that offer so many possibilities.”

The Last Five Years, first staged in Chicago in 2001 and then produced in 2002 Off-Broadway in a production starring Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott, has become a staple of regional theaters not only in the United States, but across the globe. The 90-minute love story follows two aspiring artists in New York City who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. Jamie, a writer, has just fallen in love. Cathy, an aspiring actress, is mourning the end of their relationship five years in the future. Jamie’s arc is in chronological order, but Cathy’s moves in reverse. They meet in the middle when they decide to marry. The entirely sung-through musical’s emotional songs progress us through the love story.

Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, who first entered the New York theatre scene in 1995 with Songs for a New World, and is a Tony Award-winner for his musicals Parade and The Bridges of Madison County, may just be “the best musical-theatre composer alive at this moment,” shared Jones. “Which is what drew me to include The Last Five Years in PSF’s 33rd season line-up.”

The Production Sponsors for the The Last Five Years are Yvonne Payne and Edward Spitzer, and the Co-Sponsors are Lutron and The Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation.

The Festival’s 2024 Season Sponsors are Lee and Dolly Butz. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Single tickets, subscriptions, and packages can be purchased online at, or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455], ext. 1, or in person at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University, in Center Valley, PA.

The 2024 Summer Season—May 29 to August 4, 2024

“Play On!” Community Tour: May 31 to June 16

The Comedy of Errors, By William Shakespeare, Directed by Jessica Bedford

On the Main Stage:

 PSF presents 1812 Productions:

The Play That Goes Wrong

May 29 to June 16  

By Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, & Jonathan Sayer

Directed by Jennifer Childs 

The Merry Wives of Windsor

June 26 to July 7

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Matt Pfeiffer 

The Color Purple

July 17 to August 4

Book by Marsha Norman

Music & Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray

Directed by Amina Robinson 

In the Schubert Theatre:

The Last Five Years

June 12 to June 30

Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown

Directed by Jason King Jones


July 24 to August 4

By William Shakespeare

“Extreme Shakespeare”

Children’s Theatre Productions:

Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends | Schubert Theatre

July 5 to August 3

Adapted by Jason King Jones | Directed by Jenna Place

Shakespeare for Kids (S4K) presents Twelfth Night | Main Stage

July 24 to August 3

By Erin Sheffield | Directed by Matt Pfeiffer 

S4K Mini Tour:
Friday, July 26th at Allentown Public Library
Saturday, July 27th at Lower Macungie Library
Wednesday, July 31st at Bucks County Free Library (Quakertown Branch)
Thursday, August 1st at Hellertown Area Library

The Festival will host its 2nd annual Community Day event on Saturday, July 6, 2024. The event will take place on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University in front of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, and is the summer home to over 200 artists from around the country, including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Jefferson, and Barrymore Awards.

Actor, Creative, and Leadership Bios:

BEN LURYE (Jamie) recently played Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza at Opera in the Heights, Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd at Theatre Under the Stars, and Max in A Comedy of Tenors at Bristol Riverside Theatre. Ben has also appeared at the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre: Sweeney Todd (2023 and 2010), A Little Night Music, Diner; Ford’s Theatre: Hello, Dolly!; Olney Theatre: My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins (dir. Jason King Jones), Sweeney Todd, Forever Plaid, Joseph…Dreamcoat; Rep Stage: Songs for a New World, Sweeney Todd, The Fantasticks; Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 1st Stage, Virginia Rep, and more. CONCERT: NSO: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Ben Folds and Mo Willems; Lawton Philharmonic: On The Town.

CHANI DAWN WERELY (Cathy) Regional: Ford’s Theatre: Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey); Signature Theatre: Sweeney Todd (Bird Seller), Pacific Overtures (Madam), Into the Woods (Lucinda); Olney Theatre Center: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Yitzhak), A.D. 16 (Esther); Folger Theatre: Love’s Labor’s Lost (Katherine); Round House Theatre: Spring Awakening (Martha); Kennedy Center: Earthrise (Sophia); Keegan Theatre: American Idiot (Extraordinary Girl), Dogfight (Ruth Two Bears); Monumental Theatre Co: Pippin (Catherine), Bonnie and Clyde. EDUCATION: Catholic University.

JASON KING JONES (PSF Artistic Director; Director, The Last Five Years). Prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley with his family, Jason spent ten years at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where he served as Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players, America’s longest-running touring theatre company. In the past twenty-five years Jason directed over seventy-five productions, mentored hundreds of early-career theatre makers, and established various in-school and summer educational programs. He is an Acting Company alumnus, a proud member of the PSF Board, and a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association’s IDEAA Committee, and Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit & Business Partners Council. Jason holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Missouri State and an MFA in Directing from Boston University.

WALTER “BOBBY” MCCOY (Music Director, The Last Five Years) is a noted music director and conductor thrilled to be returning to PSF. He has worked in New York on projects including Xanadu and The World Goes ‘Round (The Mac-Haydn Theatre), Medusa: The Musical. He recently was music coordinator for A Strange Loop (Woolly Mammoth Theatre). Other projects include Masterclass (Arizona Theatre Company); Disney’s Beauty and the BeastMiss You Like Hell, and Annie (Olney Theatre Center); On Your Feet! En Español and Fame: in Spanish (Gala Hispanic Theatre; 2022 Helen Hayes Winner, Outstanding Musical Direction); In The Heights in Spanish (2018 Helen Hayes Winner, Outstanding Musical Direction);  Legally Blonde (Keegan Theatre; 2020 Helen Hayes Winner, Outstanding Musical Direction); A New BrainA Civil War ChristmasFly By Night (2019 Helen Hayes Nom), Old Wicked Songs (2016 Helen Hayes Nom), Bat Boy, and Altar Boyz (1st Stage Tyson’s); Little Shop of Horrors (2020 Helen Hayes Nom), Aida (2019 Helen Hayes Nom), and The Wild Party (2018 HH Nom) (Constellation Theatre). Select upcoming projects include The Drowsy Chaperone (Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre), Beautiful (Olney Theatre Center).

CASEY WILLIAM GALLAGHER (PSF Managing Director) has worked at PSF for 26 seasons. Over the years he was a box office intern, a stage management intern, the assistant house manager, box office manager, company manager, assistant producer, director of development and worked directly with PSF Founder Jerry Schubert in the early years of the organization. Since 2004, in his role as general manager and later managing director, he served as the administrative leader of the festival, working very closely with former Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy and the box office, business, development, marketing and production departments. Casey now serves as co-leader of the Festival with Artistic Director Jason King Jones. Beyond PSF, Casey was treasurer for the Shakespeare Theatre Association, director of audience services for The People’s Light & Theatre Company, a board member for Civic Theatre of Allentown, a peer panelist for the New Jersey Council on the Arts and a judge for the Greater Philadelphia Barrymore Awards for excellence in theatre.

Information provided to TVL by:
Tina Louise Slak
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
The Professional Theatre at DeSales University
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034
p: 610-282-WILL [9455]