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More Snapshots in the News!

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Hugh Hastings and Beth DeVries play the older incarnations of Dan and Sue in

Hugh Hastings and Beth DeVries play the older incarnations of Dan and Sue in ‘Snapshots,’ a revue of composer Stephen Schwartz’s music debuting at Village Theatre on Thursday.

— Image Credit: Photo Copyrighted By Mark Kitaoka

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.

Snapshots in the Press!

New musical comes full circle

September 3, 2015

By David Hayes

NEW — 10:25 a.m. Sept. 3, 2015

After a decade in the works, Village Theatre debuts ‘Snapshots’ 

Some ideas are so audacious that they literally take years to bring to fruition.

By Mark Kitaoka/Village Theatre Hugh Hastings (left, as Dan) and Beth DeVries (Sue) star in the Village Theatre production of ‘Snapshots.’

Such was the case in 2005 when young writers David Stern and Michael Scheman and their longtime composer friend Stephen Schwartz proposed a new musical to Village Theatre.

A decade later, that idea has blossomed into “Snapshots,” a full musical production debuting this week.

Looking back, Stern said he’s amazed at the journey it took to bring the idea to life.

“This one of those projects, it started in my 20s, that I had to be young and naïve, and now look back on and say, ‘What was I thinking?’” Stern said.

Essentially, “Snapshots” intertwines the greatest hits from Schwartz’s catalog and intertwines them into a story of a couple looking back on their lives.

Stern, who has written for just about every medium from television to the stage, said few have tried what he and Schwartz set out to do. They found it to be one large jigsaw puzzle.

“We wanted to make this work, so we set the bar as high as we could as an original musical,” Stern said.

However, in his youthful exuberance, it wasn’t to be as easy as putting songs in a certain order while telling an interesting story.

“We discovered you had to answer all other sorts of questions and you needed a beginning, middle and end,” he said.

If you go

Sept. 10 to Oct. 18
Village Theatre
303 Front St. N.
$36 to $68

One of the challenges, Stern said, was incorporating the myriad styles of the songs of Schwartz’s career, as they evolved over the decades. “Pippen” and “Godspell” were from the 1970s, while “The Baker’s Wife” is a product of the ’80s and “Wicked” debuted in 2003.

To help them get the idea off the ground, Stern said he and Schwartz were lucky to have worked with Village Theatre Executive Producer Rob Hunt.

“Rob really supports new work, especially those in developmental production,” Stern said. “He knew there was a window we needed to make this work. He said when we’ve gone out and made it work, come back we’ll put it on the main stage. In this business, people always say something like that. Rob meant it.”

So, after letting the idea gestate for a decade, the duo gaining further life experience actually added more gravitas to the project. Stern was better able to identify with the central couple in the tale in their various stages of life.

“Parts of the puzzle I was able to rewrite more authentically,” he said.

“Snapshots” is a show about empty nesters basically reliving their relationship from age 11 to present. Stern said all ages in the audience should be able to relate to parts of the tale.

“Empty nesters relate with it, those in their 30s and teens also relate with the romantic love story. All ages respond to it,” Stern said. “It’s a photo album concept. A photo album of life’s big events — wedding, birth of a child, right of passage, altercations in life that bond and push us from and to our partner.”

With the tale solidified, the challenge of how to incorporate 26 songs from Schwartz’s 12-musical career remained. They turned for help to Steve Orich, orchestrator for “Jersey Boys,” who provided them the link they were missing through the orchestra’s rhythm section.

“Then, we tweaked the songs,” Stern said. “The more known songs, we messed with more. Like ‘Popular,’ we did in a medley for a guy and a guy, giving it a new sound and interpretation. Lessor-known songs we messed with less.”

Finally, the cast was kept to a minimum at six. But bringing the production full circle, the original actors who read the lead roles in the Village Originals in 2005 were recast for the main stage debut.

Stern said they’ve worked and tweaked “Snapshots” so much along the way over the last decade, to finally see it debut is a milestone everyone should enjoy.

“I think it will be a really fun and entertaining show,” he said. “Plus, who, doesn’t like musical theater?”

Snapshots Opens September 10th!

Snapshots is deep in rehearsal at The Village Theatre in Issaquah, WA, preparing for Opening Night! P1020239The show is sure to be wonderful with the amazing vocal talents of the cast being musically directed by the great RJ Trancioco. Danny Goldstein brings his remarkable direction to this production, and David Farley has designed a fantastic set. All told, this will be the ultimate production of the show. Don’t miss it!