Village Theatre’s latest show, Snapshots, begins in a moment of crisis. Sue, readying to leave her husband of 20 years, goes up to the attic to grab her suitcase when Dan comes home from work early and confronts her. When a box of old photographs spills out onto the floor and significant memories from their past literally spring to life, they are reminded of why they came together — and how they drifted apart.
“Who we were affects who we are,” show writer David Stern said. “Sometimes those things build up enough that they create walls between us. As we grow up, life sort of gets in the way of our relationships.”
The musical will open in Issaquah’s Village Theatre Sept. 10, more than a decade after an unfinished version of it first debuted as a Village Originals Developmental Production in 2005.
The production began as a way to pay tribute to Stephen Schwartz’s work. Snapshots features 26 songs from 12 shows throughout Schwartz’s career, including “Popular” from Wicked and “That’s How You Know” from Disney’s Enchanted.
To fit the new story, Schwartz has tweaked the lyrics or tempo of some of the most popular tunes, which Stern says is unheard of. Schwartz also wrote the one original song, “Snapshots,” in the musical.
The idea to create Snapshots first formed back in the early ‘90s. Stern’s friend Michael Scheman wanted to create a revue of the composer’s work, which no one had done before.
“Well that’s ridiculous,” Stern recalls thinking upon hearing no one had created a revue of Schwartz’s work.
So, Stern looked the composer up in the phonebook — an art lost with the farflung era of the ‘90s — and called him.
After Stern pitched the concept of adapting his songs to a completely new story, Schwartz said it was a great idea.
“Only now do I know he says that to everybody,” Stern said.
Looking back, he said it was a crazy idea — but as a 20-something-year-old, “we didn’t know any better,” Stern said.
At first, Stern and Scheman wrote a script for a four-person play before doing a read-through for Schwartz two years later.
He loved it — but it was clear they had much more work to do, Stern said.
“If you’re going to try a new story with these songs, we need to really deliver,” Stern recalls Schwartz telling him.
And that’s where they left off, until nearly a decade later when employees at the Village Theatre brought Stern and Schwartz back together in 2005.
Even after that, they worked on Snapshots for several more years, with various small-scale incarnations performed around the states, before the show developed into what it is now.
That unplanned break turned out to be vital to the story, Stern said.
When first collaborating, Stern was much closer to the younger pair, whereas Schwartz was in his 40s, married, with children, and could relate to the couple in their early adulthood.
Coming back to the material more recently, the two had advanced to a new stage of their lives: Stern married and had children while Schwartz’s children had moved out.
“Through the passage of time, and our new life experiences, we were finally able to finish the piece,” Stern wrote in his author’s note.
They added a new couple, capping the cast at six actors.
“We were able to bring a real honesty to it that we couldn’t before because we hadn’t lived it,” Stern said.
The actors that had played the couple in their early adulthood, DeVries and Hastings, in 2005 were recast as the older, present-day couple.
In their youth, going back to grade school, Mallory King and Ben Wynant play Susie and Danny, respectively. In their early adulthood, Susan and Daniel are played by Tracy McDowell and Jim DeSelm.
Snapshots opens in Issaquah Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m.