Filichia Features: SNAPSHOTS, The Stephen Schwartz Show You Don’t Know

Filichia Features: SNAPSHOTS, The Stephen Schwartz Show You Don’t Know

By Peter Filichia on February 21, 2019

"A Musical Scrapbook."

That's the subtitle of Snapshots, a collection of Stephen Schwartz songs.

Considering what a scrapbook is, you may assume that the show is a revue of Schwartz's songs dating back to Pippin Pippin (as Pippin was called when Schwartz was developing it at Carnegie Tech) all the way to The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hearing songs from the greatest Baby Boomer musical theater composer-lyricist would alone be entertaining. Snapshots does even better by telling a story. Thanks to conceivers Michael Scheman and David Stern, Snapshots is a book musical with a libretto by Stern surrounded by 29 Stephen Schwartz songs - some for which he "only" wrote lyrics -- from 10 different musicals, one film and one album.

You'll love the setting. After all, a cluttered attic (with everything including the kitchen sink), is an easy set to build. Most theaters will find that moving that dusty debris that been accumulating backstage since the Reagan administration only needs to be lugged out front. Presto! Set!

Sue is leaving a note for her husband Dan - and their marriage. From her line "Just in case it took you some time to notice, it's Tuesday night," we know she finds him inattentive.

Then she hears "Sue?" Dan has unexpectedly arrived home, so Sue loses her nerve and in a panic knocks over a box of photographs.

That starts the couple looking through these memories: "the dog long gone" and "friends who split up and moved away." Pictures never change and show "everyone happy forever" - very different from real life. As Dan notes, "All that seem to last are snapshots." Sue digs deeper: "I'm looking for answers among my memories."

Enter Susie and Danny, their 11-year-old selves, as well as Susan and Daniel, twentysomethings in love. (Casting actual lookalike family members isn't a necessity, but a nice option.)

Danny's mother has recently died, resulting in a move that makes him "New Kid in the Neighborhood." An errant baseball that Susie missed brings her over to him.

Matters become intriguing, not merely because of Stern's libretto, but also because of the unexpected lyrics to Schwartz's familiar melodies. If you know "No Time at All" from Pippin and "Popular" from Wicked (and I bet you do), you'll find that Schwartz has tailor-made brand-spanking-new lyrics to the former for Susie and the latter for Danny to fit their situations. These new lyrics literally create Variations on a Theme.

Quite often, two songs are combined to make a stronger statement. Susie sings "Lion Tamer," about a lass who feels that if she can get animals to relate to her, "maybe I could work up to men." Then the adult Sue admits "I'm Not That Girl."

The latter song you undoubtedly know, but "Lion Tamer"? In the mid-'70s all Broadway was aware of this lovely ballad from The Magic Show, which became Broadway's ninth-longest-running musical. The song was a cabaret favorite for a decade or so, too. Because the musical was created as a vehicle for magician Doug Henning and needs someone who can do his hardly slight sleight of hand, it's never revived. "Lion Tamer" deserves to be.

Better known is Pippin's "Extraordinary." "I'm going to live all my life in superlatives," Pippin insists. Here, at her high school graduation, Susie sings line stressing the last word as "Sue-perlatives."

Did this idea come from Stern, Schwartz or Scheman? Or was the character suddenly renamed "Sue" when one writer noticed this possibility? Whatever the case, "Sue-perlatives" makes for ear-tickling, smile-inducing good musical theater.

Two Pippin songs serve their two graduations: "Corner of the Sky" at high school, "Morning Glow" at college. Susie isn't glowing, however, because Danny regards her as a pal, while she wants romance.

And - after Sue's liaison with someone else (primarily to make Daniel jealous) she gets her man. It leads to this "Be careful what you wish for" scenario 20 years later. Marriage often changes plans and dashes dreams. The older characters tell these truths to the younger ones. Can the younger people teach their elders a thing or two that might save the marriage?

Far more often than not, the characters sing these truths. Your audience will get to enjoy the Schwartz songs they know and love, the Schwartz melodies with new twists and the Schwartz discoveries, too. All good gifts; all for the best.

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