One of the best conversations to have with a theatre person is their origin story – the play that got them hooked in the first place. For the stars of The Last Five Years, Katie Rose Clarke and Adam Halpin, the stories are both familiar and unique unto themselves.
Adam Halpin grew up as a serious athlete, a baseball player through his senior year of high school. But his life was surrounded by musical theatre. His mother played the Broadway recordings in the car when they drove around. His uncle had all of the great Broadway vinyl records, going all the way back to the 1930s. He grew up in New Jersey, so trips into the city to see the latest hit were a regular occurrence. “It was always engrossed in my family,” he said. “It was there. It was in the blood. Despite my great effort with sports, musical theatre was always there for me.”
Halpin began college studying finance, realized he was miserable and fell sway to the siren song of acting and singing, something he started in high school. “I think the show that did it for me, although there were many along the way, the show that ultimately turned me, was Rent, which I was able to do. It was crazy and such a dream to have loved something so much, and to be a part of it. I think that was a nail in the coffin for me. There was no going back,” he said.
Katie Rose Clarke was always around music, but not necessarily the theatre, while growing up in a small town in Texas. She recalled being in junior high and becoming smitten with it while watching her brother and sister in their high school play. She followed them to every rehearsal and performance of their production of My Fair Lady. “I am still friends with the girl who played Eliza Doolittle in that production. She’s an actor in the city,” Clarke said.
Clarke, now a stage struck teen found her own voice through a supportive music teacher. The teacher introduced Clarke to the musical theatre canon, coaching her along. Once she realized that she had a talent for the theatre, carefully cultivated by her teacher, Clarke knew what her life’s path would be. “She really believed in me. It was through her that I got my first connection, my first big break,” Clarke said.
Every theatre person remembers the first one, the thing they saw that made them realize that participating in this dream world was where they belonged.
— Steven Scarpa