“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