Tag Archives: Revue

Snapshots Gets a Rave in Phoenix!

“Snapshots” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ January 4, 2016


Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Several musical revues pay tribute to various composers and Broadway musical theater teams.  Recent examples include “Jersey Boys” take on Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, “Beautiful,” the Carole King tribute, “Mamma Mia’s” ABBA accolade, and Leiber and Stoller’s “Smokey Joe’s Café.”  In “Snapshots,” Arizona Theatre Company’s superb premiere show homage is given Stephen Schwartz, composer of Broadway smash hits like “Wicked,” “Godspell,” and “Pippin” among his 12 shows represented in “Snapshots.”

But co-conceivers Michael Scheman and David Stern developed a different approach that distinguishes “Snapshots” and makes it smashing.  They’ve created a touching story about a long-time married couple who deal with their changing relationship and its impact on the marriage.  We see the pair as young teens who fall in love, as an older married couple, and today as they confront many evils.  The creators weave 25 Schwartz tunes throughout the narrative to explore in greater depth the myriad of emotions that have occurred.  Although I will not spoil the ending, know that the issues tackled are realistic and relevant to most married couples.  Each situation is enhanced by Schwartz’s perspective tunes.

Unlike many musical revues, about 75 percent of the song lyrics have been changed to fit the story that is set in Sue and Dan’s attic where many things from their marriage have accumulated.  While in the attic, many things that weren’t said earlier get dissected.

Arizona Theatre Company’s masterful production is staged eloquently by Daniel Goldstein in the cleverly designed attic that permits projections of thoughts and pictures from throughout the marriage.  A band plays the Schwartz songs with sublime brilliance that is enhanced by Abe Jacob’s sound that blends the orchestra and the on stage ensemble so not a lyric is missed.

A marvelous cast handles the couple at the three stages of their marriage and they essay additional characters that cause other marital stresses.  As the contemporary couple, Beth DeVries soulful Sue and Hugh Hastings introspective Dan bring out the pair’s inner thoughts.  Tracy McDowell’s Susan and Jim DeSelm’s Daniel, the middle duo, have several experiences foreshadowing the couple’s later problems.  Mallory King as the flirtatious but thoughtful Susie and Ben Wynant as the effervescent but clueless Danny are a dynamo of youthful energy.

“Snapshots” HAS ITS intimacy make it a better off-Broadway presentation where it can tell its heartwarming story better than in a larger Broadway theater.  “Snapshots” plays through January 17 and earns five stars out of five.  For tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: A

Another Rave Review for Snapshots

Love, Laughter and Tears at Village Theatre

Snapshots, A Musical Scrapbook with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Village Theatre, Issaquah through October 18, Everett October 23-November 15, 2015

By Alice Kaderlan

It’s not a new story. The spark has gone out of Sue and Dan’s marriage, at least for Sue, and she’s decided to leave. Dan is clueless; he’s as content as ever and shocked to discover Sue in the attic gathering up a suitcase and a few other things for her departure. The attic is full of memories, captured in old photos and objects from the couple’s 20 years together. Gradually, as they go through the items in the attic, they relive happier times and ultimately, not surprisingly, rekindle the connection between them.

The Cast of Snapshots Snapshots Production photo. © 2015 Tracy Martin.  Property of Village Theatre.

Even though we know from the very beginning where the plot is going, David Stern’s book and Stephen Schwartz’s endearing songs and lyrics keep us engaged in this bittersweet tale.

The production is a hybrid– not quite a full musical but more than a revue – and uses a wide range of songs from Schwartz’s original musicals. There are tunes from “Pippin,” “Wicked,” “Godspell,” “The Magic Show” and many lesser known Schwartz musicals, all woven skillfully together by Stern and his co-creator Michael Scheman in a way that makes perfectly logical sense.

Stern and Scheman have come up with a clever conceit to dramatize Sue and Dan’s history. As the couple pores through the items they uncover in the attic, their younger selves come alive in the form of Mallory King and Ben Wynant as the pair during childhood, Tracy McDowell and Jim DeSelm as they transition into adulthood. All six are believable and vocally impressive; the younger cast members are particularly memorable portraying the peripheral characters who meander in and out of the couple’s life.

Director David Goldstein elicits touching, occasionally hilarious performances from his actors and moves them around Village Theatre’s cramped stage in a way that never feels claustrophobic. David Farley’s inventive set allows for projections that capture the joy and heartache of Sue and Dan’s life together and Monique Walker’s clever props turn the stage into a delivery room, college dorm, children’s schoolyard and any number of other locations.

Although few of the songs are memorable out of context they are all tuneful and the lasting effect of “Snapshots” is like that of a cool summer breeze, gentle and soothing.