SNAPSHOTS – A MUSICAL SCRAPBOOKMusic & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book By David Stern
SUE – Nancy Bartke
DAN – Ken O’Reilly
MAN1 – DANNY plus Male Ad Writer, Peter, Dan Double, Marilou, Doctor & Matt – Campbell Bovaird
WOMAN 1 – SUSIE plus Female Ad Writer, Daniel’s Date, Girlfriends 1,2 & 3, Elaine, Dan Double & Doctor – Chelsea Wolfe
MAN 2 – DANIEL plus 11-17 Year Old Boy, Valedictorian, Roger, College Dean & Dan Double – Spencer Bovaird
WOMAN 2 – SUSAN plus 11-17 Year Old Girl, High School Graduate, Karen, College Graduate, Dan Double & Rene – Amanda Bridges
Director, Artistic Director and Sound Design – Neale Whitmore
Music Director – Shane Hurst
Stage Manager, Light Board Operator and Company Manager – Katie Dedman Radke
Costume Design – Dallas Costume Shoppe
Light Design – Alex Ammons
Props – Elise Knox
Set Design, Construction, Graphic Design and Technical Director – Cindy Tremmel
Wigs – Kelly Holmes
Sound Board Operator – Joe Bovaird
Back Stage Crew – Kennedy Smith, Mia Quatrino, Marshall Johnson
Producer – Howard Korn
Volunteer Coordinator – Joyce Korn
Caterer, Lobby Posters – Diane Rogers
Keyboard, Conductor – Shane Hurst
Guitar – Aaron Sutton
Drums – Randy Linberg
Bass – Hamilton Levine
Reviewed Performance: 3/1/2019
Reviewed by Travis McCallum, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The beginning of the show starts off slow with the establishment of the characters and the situation. Sue (Nancy Bartke) is leaving her husband for a myriad of reasons, and comes across some past relics in her attic. Dan (Ken O’Reilly) comes home early and joins her upstairs. And so these two actors would reside upstage atop of the set for the entire duration of the play. In a depressing mood of melancholy, we know things are not going well for this elderly couple.
This musical is unlike anything I have ever seen before and as Director Neale Whitmore describes in his notes, “In this show, Mr. Schwartz reworked almost all the music blending 2 or 3 songs (cleverly) together creating in essence a new song.”
I was quick to recognize familiar tunes to the likes of WICKED, PIPPIN, GODSPELL and many others. However, lyrics were changed to match the story and sometimes the blending happened so quickly unless you were fully engaged you might miss a beat.
The whole idea of stitching these memorable classics serves two distinct reasons throughout the show: 1) The essence of SNAPSHOTS as brief moments of time translate perfectly; 2) Each of the hand-picked songs shares a compelling message that drives the story further.
As an example, when Sue & Dan are reflecting on high school graduation, Sue’s younger counterpart SUSIE (Chelsea Wolfe) sings downstage a blending of “Lion Tamer” and “I’m Not That Girl”. These two musical numbers express her internal conflict to either pursue her career in art, or chase after the boy she loves.
Halfway through the first act was where I found the show picked up and caught my attention. There were three major pillars to drive the story, which often overlapped with each other. Sue & Dan upstage, their younger adolescent selves Susie and DANNY (Campell Bovaird), and their more mature selves DANIEL (Spencer Bovaird) and SUSAN (Amanda Bridges).
In those early encounters, Susie and Danny represent the boundless energy of youth with all its awkwardness. One of my favorite parts of SNAPSHOTS is when we actually get to see the photos being taken to reflect what our older couple in the attic reveal. Dressed in a baseball uniform, lugging along the bat, the young duo like to get rough and dirty.
Despite such a tight connection, Danny is blind to Susie’s love. It’s only when the two go their own ways and are apart, they realize how much they miss each other. In adulthood, Daniel works in sales while Susan married her art professor. By fate, they reconnect in New York. In an exciting performance at the end of Act 1, Susie graces us with “Meadowlark” and the pair romantic relationship finally blossoms.
However, my chief critique of the production was the static nature of the actors to stand in one place. It was very boring to watch, but pleasant to listen to. Often with musicals, dance is a key component to engagement and the choreography here was severely lacking.
Individual critiques for actors begins for our opening player Sue, played by Nancy Bartke. Her voice reminds me of a classically trained operatic. I did not think it fit the part of the show, coming off more presentational and less realistic.
What I did enjoy about Mrs. Bartke was her commitment to the character’s emotions living in the moment. Even when the spotlight was downstage, she engaged with her counterparts often pleading for them to do something. Her facial expressions were powerful and she was one of the few characters who made good use of her space.
Joining his wife upstage was Ken O’Reilly as Dan. When he belted out the lyrics of “All Good Gifts” I was blown away. That man has some power, and took me by surprise. One of my favorite parts was watching him imitate downstage actions, like teaching his son how to drive the car. He would pretend to hold a staring wheel and it added a nice piece to the show.
The funniest person on stage is definitely Danny played by Campbell Bovaird. He may not be the best singer, but his proficiency as a great character actor bring smiles to the audience faces. From the oblivious and socially inept teenager, to the crossdressing ex-girlfriend Campbell isn’t afraid to make a fool of himself.
I thought his opening song “New Kid in the Neighborhood” sounded pretty good, but in comparison with the other cast members he was quickly overshadowed.
To complement Campbell, Chelsea Wolfe played Susie, another hard-wired character actor who had the luxury to sing a gambit of perhaps the best songs in this show including titles like “Popular” and “I’m Not That Girl.”
Mrs. Wolfe sported a spunky personality pepping us with fun-loving joy. Her persistent advancements to win Danny’s favor is one such as example. Perhaps more entertaining is her three quick wig changes under the blanket to be 3 separate girlfriends, each with their distinct attributes.
Sadly, she did fall flat on some of the higher notes in her solo renditions, but overall hit the mark for believability.
The older Susan played by Amanda Bridges is the rockstar of the show. Her stunning performance as a singer and actor was truly riveting. She carried an aura of genuine sincerity and pushed forward the agenda of her younger self in the turmoil one experiences when defying the heart.
Mrs. Bridges sang “Spark of Creation” beautifully alongside Mrs. Wolfe, which personally was my favorite number of hers. Of course, this led to her birth scene later on expertly directed by Neale.
Finally, Daniel is played by Spencer Bovaird, the mature adult who becomes engrossed with his work in sales. I think he has an excellent singing voice and good acting skills. One of my favorite roles he played was the setup ‘double date’ in the college apartment scene. Spencer played an egotistical Roger creeping out Susie and making us all cringe on her behalf.
The technical aspects of the musical put together a wonderful show. To begin on the credit of Music Director Shane Hurst, we are blessed with a live band comprised of a keyboard, guitars and a drum set.
While the keyboard did the legwork of setting the melody, the supporting players of the band lent a great deal of ambience and tone to the show. The positioning of the band in the left back corner of the stage may have sounded differently depending on where you sit, but their physical presence was never a distraction for what was going onstage.
Most impressive was the lighting, so expertly designed by Alex Ammons. He strategically placed beautiful shadows on tableau, the motionless actors, freezing time for us to appreciate a story waiting to unfold.
His choice on interchanging hues of blue, purples, yellows and the occasional red tie into this nostalgic melancholy theme we struggle to come to terms with.
There were many costume changes throughout the show, each meeting the requirements of a specific scene whether that be a graduation robe or a doctor’s scrubs. I applaud the timing given for quick changes through each scene, especially for the younger couples.
Scene transitions were flawless and while I could physically see the changes happening before my eyes, my mind was focused on identifying the music being played in the background.
SNAPSHOTS is a tear-jerker to say the least. You come into the show and are immediately flooded with a wave of sadness from the frantic nature of a failed marriage. Life lessons across the whole spectrum of a relationship take shape including emotional thresholds on jealously, envy, hope & forgiveness.
Each song plays its part in driving the story along and the actors project their distinct personalities on the passage of time in life. There are moments of triumph, followed by grief and much despair.
While the beginning starts off slow, stick around and allow yourself to be moved by this touching story of a couple’s reigniting on their WHY. Why they came together and why they will never part.