Monday, October 21, 2013


When people are asked what they would rescue if their home were on fire, after children and pets, many mention photo albums and pictures as their most treasured items to preserve.  We mark all special occasions with smiling pictures around a birthday cake or next to the Christmas tree.  We mark our happiness in Kodak moments.

 Sue (Karen Mason), a frustrated artist wannabe and middle-aged woman is in the act of retrieving a suitcase from the attic, to prepare to leave her marriage and her inattentive and unresponsive workaholic husband. She uncovers an album of memories while looking for the means to walk away. The scrapbook chronicles memories from the past...when the couple were younger and happier.

When Dan (Mark Jacoby) comes home early from work, oblivious to his wife's plans, the two end up reviewing and reliving a series of "snapshots" from their life together.  As childhood classmates, friends, lovers, parents and who-are-you-really spouses, the question remains:  can they find each other and find their way back home? Karen Mason and Mark Jacoby play the couple in the present time.

Along the way, songs by prolific songwriter Stephen Schwartz, old and familiar and some brand new, help them discover landmarks of musical significance.  Twenty songs from eleven different shows, like "Children of Eden," "Godspell," "Pippin," "Personals" and "Wicked" are among those selected.  The songs are a catalyst for conversation and prompt the couple to examine the crossroad they have reached now that they are empty nesters, with their only child out  on his own. Susie and Dan will be played at younger ages by Elizabeth Stanley and Matthew Scott, in the middle years, and Ephie Aardema and Dan DeLuca play Susie and Danny when they first meet, in the early years.

From the show "Pippin," a medley of tunes, "Extra Ordinary" and "Corner of Sky" provide a backdrop for a flashback to high school graduation, where everything has its season and time and the future is open ended.  Years later, Dan is the expectant father pacing the delivery room, awaiting word of an imminent arrival.  As a new dad, he is heard singing "All Good Gifts."  Originally from "Godspell," it beautifully captures the specialness of the moment.

The beginnings of "Snapshots A Musical Scrapbook" go back over two decades when playwright, producer, director. movie writer David Stern and his

partner Michael Scheman realized that composer Stephen Schwartz's music had never been celebrated in a show of just his music.  At the time, Stern was working on the play "Nick and Nora" on Broadway with Richard Maltby Jr.  With enterprising speed, Stern looked up Schwartz's phone number, called him, pitched the story idea and got a "sure, go for it" response.  Later Stern learned that Schwartz says that to everyone.

The work had its spurts and starts but other projects interfered and it landed in the infamous bottom drawer for almost twenty years.  After Stephen Schwartz's immense success with "Wicked," everything he ever wrote got a second look and "Snapshots" once more saw the light of day.  Both David Stern and Stephen Schwartz were now twenty years older, with the requisite life experience to write realistically about a middle aged couple.  They reexamined and rewrote the show and Goodspeed Musicals saw it and felt this memory play, "this part revue, part story" deserved to be mounted on stage.  To Stern, "there is nothing like Goodspeed anywhere else.  They answer most of our questions.  They are crazy supportive and have amazing facilities.  If we need ten matching umbrellas, they produce them.  If we decide on ten matching canes, they deliver them too."

For Stern, "the cast is so superior.  I am in awe of what they bring to the table.  They are first class.  90% of our ability to succeed lies in casting.  The other 10% is the production itself.  Our director Danny Goldstein is fully engaged with the right aesthetics.  But at the end of the day, the big question is: did we communicate our thoughts to the audience?  They are the final jury."  He hopes they will walk away with the message that one needs to work on relationships and tell someone you love them, in a way they receive that message.  Learning to communicate is vital, to tell it often and well, so your mate hears it.

These life passages are at the heart of "Snapshots," opening Thursday, October 24-Sunday, November 17 at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre, 133 North Main Street, Chester.  For tickets ($44), call Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 or online at  Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Next up for David Stern, after his Disney movie "Geppetto" and the school play adaptation of "My Son Pinocchio" is the animated film "Free Birds," the story of two turkeys with a time travel machine going back in history to get themselves off the holiday menu.  Look for it November 1 as we begin preparing for Thanksgiving. 

As for Stephen Schwartz, the only songwriter in Broadway history ever to have three shows run more than 1900 performances, "Wicked,""Godspell" and "Pippin, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Now Stephen Schwartz can add to his prestigious list that he has a musical scrapbook celebrating his music:  "Snapshots." 

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