Tuesday, January 5, 2016

theatre review - SNAPSHOTS - Arizona Theatre Company - January 2, 2016

Hugh Hastings, Jim DeSelm, Tracy McDowell, Beth DeVries, Ben Wynant, and Mallory King
Photo by Mark Kitaoka
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 17th.

"As one of the most prolific and successful Broadway composers still working today, it's amazing that Stephen Schwartz hasn't had a revue show of his material..this multiple Grammy, Oscar, and Drama Desk Award winner has a plethora of strong material to choose from. Over twenty years ago Michael Scheman and David Stern came up with the idea for a revue of Schwartz's work and the end result is Snapshots, which isn't just a revue, but actually a brand new musical, since it has a completely original story and many new lyrics that help make the songs relevant to the tale of a married couple, in their early fifties, at an impasse in their marriage, who look back on their lives together...Arizona Theatre Company's co-production with Seattle's Village Theatre.. is poignant and well directed with a very good cast, many of whom have appeared in previous productions of this show.  Stern's book is slight but features touches of warmth, humor, and romance....While the ending may be predictable there are still enough plot elements that make you question if this journey through the past will be enough to rekindle Sue and Dan's relationship. The only flaw with the show is that Stern's book focuses almost the entire time on the younger characters' lives so we don't really see what happened to Dan and Sue in the past ten years that made them drift as far apart as they are when the show begins. Schwartz's score features about 50% newly rewritten lyrics so, unlike a jukebox musical like Mamma Mia! where songs are simply shoe-horned in...the lyrics for Snapshot are specific to the characters and plot. While there are a couple of songs from Schwartz's hit shows, many of the musical highlights of Snapshots are from his flops. "Meadowlark," from The Baker's Wife, is sung by the three versions of Sue and is exceptional, especially in the stellar arrangement by Steve Orich, in showing us the reasoning behind Sue's decision to leave...."All Good Gifts" from Godspell and "The Spark of Creation" from Children of Eden form a tight twosome about the joys of parenthood while "In Whatever Time We Have," also from Children of Eden, forms a nice ending, even if it was originally sung by a couple facing the end of their lives and here is sung by a duo facing their future. Musical director R. J. Tancioco achieves lush vocals from his cast and also leads the strong four-piece band. The ATC cast is very good. Beth DeVries and Hugh Hastings are the adult Sue and Dan. Both have played these parts in previous versions of the show so they have a clear understanding of the characters....Daniel Goldstein's direction is smartly paced with smooth transitions and a good balance between drama and humor....This reimagining may not appeal to those who like Schwartz's songs the way they were originally written and the book does leave a few holes. However... Snapshots has a story that anyone who has ever been in a relationship can relate to. With over two dozen of Schwartz's songs, a gifted cast, and impressive direction and creative elements, ATC's production is an extremely entertaining examination of one couple's thirty-year struggle through life's ups and downs."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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