Snapshots at Northlight Theatre | Theater review
A repurposing of Stephen Schwartz’s back catalog isn’t a bad idea, but the execution is pretty dreadful in Ken Sawyer’s production.
Repurposing his own songs from the likes of Pippin, Godspell, Children of Eden and Wicked, composer Stephen Schwartz, along with book writer David Stern, tries to thread them together into a new story about a married couple at a crossroads. With their only child safely off to college, Sue (Susie McMonagle) is ready to leave her oblivious husband, Dan (Gene Weygandt). Arriving home early from work, Dan finds Sue in their attic looking for her suitcase. Surprised by his arrival, she spills a shoebox full of photos, sparking reminiscences of their life together. They watch their younger selves (played as schoolkids by Megan Long and Nick Cosgrove and as young adults by Jess Godwin and Tony Clarno) act out their extended courtship to Schwartz’s score.
It’s not a bad concept at its core, but the execution is pretty dreadful. Stern’s book is full of cornball dialogue and middlebrow cliché. Worse, it’s structurally flawed, spending far too much time on goofy sight-gag renditions of Sue and Dan’s previous partners. We see their own relationship reenacted only after the act break, and then only until the birth of their son. The 18 years hence remain a mystery; we’re told of Sue’s present frustrations, but never shown. Those Schwartz fans here for the music are likely to be frustrated as well. Though the talented cast more than does justice to Schwartz’s ’70s folk rock–influenced harmonies, the reams of new lyrics and repurposing for plot reasons often undermine our ability to enjoy the songs on their own merits.