Sometimes it really is about who you know, as a long-time friendship between composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) and Vancouver musician Wendy Bross Stuart has resulted in a local theatre co-op landing the Canadian premiere of Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook.
“Wendy has known Stephen for years,” says director Chris McGregor. “I think the two of them even go back as far as their teens when they went to music camp together.”
Bringing McGregor, also a long-time friend of Stuart, onboard to direct, the production also includes some heavy hitters in the local musical theatre world, including Annabel Kershaw, Stephen Aberle, Jocelyn Gauthier, Warren Kimmel, Anna Kuman and Daniel Johnston.
In Snapshots, music from Schwartz’s illustrious career is weaved together to tell the story of Sue and Dan, a couple whose 30-year old marriage has fallen apart. As Sue is about to leave Dan, the two discover a box of photographs in the attic that leads them to relive the memories captured in the snapshots.
“There are actually very few lines,” says McGregor. “It is mostly Schwartz’ music, which is unusual for a show of this kind, but it really is the songs that drives the story.”
Including some of Schwartz’s most recognizable tunes from musicals like Godspell, Pippin and The Baker’s Wife and songs from his personal “Reluctant Pilgrim” album, Schwartz re-wrote many of his lyrics to help fit the story.
“For example, ‘Popular’ from Wicked is used here in a totally different context, and some of the lyrics have been changed to fit a particular scene in 1968 when Sue and Dan are just becoming friends,” explains McGregor.
But fans of Schwartz’s music needn’t worry, as most of the songs will remain instantly recognizable.
“It is definitely a mishmash, but I was genuinely surprised at how this show got to me,” says McGregor, who goes on to say how the show will resonate with both married and non-married couples alike, something he and his cast discussed at length at the start of rehearsals.
“I asked that question at an early reading,” says McGregor. “Does this resonate for someone that is not married? And the answer back was that it did. For those in the cast that aren’t married, it reminded them of their own parents and everyone could relate to it simply on a relationship level, and the trials and tribulations that come with them.”
Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook plays Studio 1398 (1398 Cartwright St, Granville Island) October 29 – November 8. Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets. Visit https://snapshotscollective.com for more information.