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Brad had gotten in touch with me through another performer about picking up a slot in our guerrilla showcase at the 2012 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference. The performance that propelled the push for a feature article in these pages was at WFUV-FM DJ John Platta€™s May 2013 a€?On Your Radara€? session at NYCa€™s Rockwood Music Hall. During the On Your Radar set we became more fully aware of why Brad can get this kind of support. In a suburb called Graymoor, on the south side of Chicago, Brad Cole spent what he calls a boring but safe childhood. He got a drum kit for his bar mitzvah but, since they lived in a small house, the drums did not last long.
In short order, they were headlining major venues in Chicago, talking to labels and setting up a tour.
At this point Brad started to really listen to Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Paul Simon and many other lyricists. He described the next step this way: a€?So I moved to East Nashville late in 2011, wrote a bunch of songs, found some great teachers and recorded a very simple album.
He has generated a loyal fan base that turns out for his shows and a€?that makes such a difference,a€? he said. At first listen, there appeared to me to be more similarities than differences between Exile and Down the Line. The much-lauded lead track on Exile, a€?Come Home,a€? is an inspired song channeling a military man who wishes nothing more than to return home and leave the madness of war behind. The lead track, a€?Cry, Cry, Cry,a€? is crafted like a Rubika€™s cube, the lyrics and melody nimbly exploring the agony of love lost. We recorded Brad performing one of his new songs, a€?Union of Souls,a€? at the On Your Radar show. One of the most effective examples of Brada€™s philosophy regarding his desire to mix styles is his collaboration with rapper Staff Johnson on the video a€?Killing Your Brother,a€? found on his website and on YouTube. Wherever he finds his inspiration, we know we can always count on a live performance from Brad Cole to inspire the rest of us. Brad a€?madea€? his mother take him to see the movie Woodstock before he was 10 years old.A  His earliest memory of playing was bongos along with his older brother and his friends while they played Kingston Trio and Beatles covers.
It wasna€™t until he was a sophomore at the University of Illinois that Brad picked up his first guitar. Brad has been touring nonstop now for three years.A  He does 120-plus shows a year, mostly east of the Mississippi. Take a direct, simple story, unfold it with exquisite care, and the result is a gem of a play opening Northlighta€™s 37th season. The snapshots, originally photos clutched in their hands, become large projections on the paneled walls before actually springing to life in the form of two incarnations of their earlier selves: Susie and Danny (Megan Long and Nick Cosgrove) and Susan and Daniel (Jess Godwin and Tony Clarno). And what songs they are: 28 drawn from 12 successful musicals a€“ all written by Stephen Schwartz. The cast has remarkable voices, clear and compelling and their dramatic ability marches the timbre a€“ moving from humor to nostalgia with ease as past and present intermingle and advice is exchanged back and forth, neatly breaking barriers as they address their earlier selves.
Kudos to Jack Magaw for the multi-level set, Karl Christian for musical staging, Steve Orich for Musical direction and arrangements, A and to the orchestra: Chris Sargent, Scott Reed, Paul Dallas, Jeffrey Handley and Marc Hogan.
While Act I is stronger than the slower second act, by playa€™s end the viewers responded to much that reached their hearts.A  On opening night, not a few wiped away tears as they joined the rest of the audience for a standing ovation.
The idea works because of the originality of the set-up, but also because Schwartz's songs, filled with aspiration and quizzical wonder, fit the basic premise so well. I could go on about many more such inspired musical choices here, most of which are beautifully sung, especially by Long and Clarno. I imagine Schwartz aficionados will enjoy Snapshots as a clever twist on the revue or jukebox musical, but I was impressed that it also works as something entirely new. Touching musical comedy at Northlight blends new lyrics to familiar Stephen Schwartz music. A At the center of one of the most highly anticipated productions of the Northlight Theatre's 2011-2012 season, Snapshots (music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by David Stern and directed by Ken Sawyer) are Dan (Gene Weygandt)and Sue (Susie McMonagle), a long-time couple that have been friends since childhood, back when they were still known as Danny (Nick Cosgrove) and Susie (Megan Long). When the play opens, Sue, dissatisfied with the state of their marriage, is up in the attic of their home, suitcase packed, in the middle of writing Dan a letter explaining that she has decided to leave him. While puttering around in the attic, talking with Sue, he comes across a box of snapshots on the floor, much of its contents spilled out. Though they do love and care about each other a great deal (therea€™s no doubt about that), therea€™s also no denying that there are real problems in the relationship. SNAPSHOTS is a new musical by the amazing Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, The Bakera€™s Wife)!! A group of very talented theatre folk and myself formed a theatrical production company called Cardboard Belt Productions. When a box of old photographs tumbles from a dusty attic shelf, Dan and Sue are flooded with memories of their many years together. In many ways, "Snapshotsa€? marks Schwartza€™s return to smaller, more intimate shows. Lyric rewrites have made many of Schwartza€™s retrofitted songs more suitable for their new settings, but too often I found myself imagining them in their original contexts. Stern has crafted a book whose well-drawn characters and realistic situations offer something every audience member can identify with. The authors have opted to ignore conventional uses of time and space, a ploy that results in the past intruding on the present and vice versa: a charactera€™s older self giving advice to his more youthful counterpart, and a young girl questioning the woman she fears shea€™ll become. Snapshots will open the 2010-2011 season.A  The remainder of the season will be announced soon. Blending together some of the best-loved music with some of the genuinely wonderful lesser known gems of renowned Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz, this touching romantic comedy exposes a marriage at a crossroads.A  Newly adapted, this musical reveals the humorous twists and unexpected turns of a middle-aged couple's reminiscence of how love brought them together and why life pushed them apart.
Relevant Theatricals and Cardboard Belt Productions have been developing this project for the past several years and most recently workedA on the musical with David Stern, Stephen Schwartz and the creative team in preparation for its Chicago premiere. Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community. Snapshots may be available for licensing in the future, and will be appropriate for groups who need a small show, as it involves only six actors, four musicians, and a single set.


Bookwriter David Stern brought Stephen Schwartz the idea of using a compilations of Schwartz songs to create a musical scrapbook of a couple's life.
I had no idea going in that Brad possesses the kind of talent that attracts top-flight backing musicians. He delivers mature, highly developed, radio-friendly songwriting and an assured stage presence.
His roommate played blues harp through a little distorted amp and Brad decided it was cool so he kept playing. Therea€™s a stripped-down quality to Down the Line that allows a more intimate feel and a sense that Brad is drawing us much closer to him.
It offers hope in a new relationship: Between you and me I feel a spark, I feel your current radiate inside of me. It became clear to him that with the time he had left in his life, he needed to focus on his own artful expression of the truth and he needed to express that truth publicly. He had just been divorced so the writing and recording of this album were full of anger and heartache. This is a heartfelt cry for a cease-fire in the gang warfare in his hometown of Chicago.A  The combination of music and grieving images is wrenching.
The three couples interact to sing and dramatize specific, emotion-filled episodes that trace the two from their early days in elementary school A a€“ hitting on many rites of passageA  a€” A before moving on to courtship and highlights of their 30 years together.
The melodies are recognizable from many of these shows which include Wicked, Pippin, A Godspell, The Magic Show, Rags, Personals, The Bakera€™s Wife, Enchanted, Captain Louie, Working, Reluctant Pilgrim and Children of Eden a€“ but the lyrics have been rewritten to fit the new dramatic situation. The musical logo flashes onto the attic walls.A  Ita€™s a powerful kick-off to the singing revue. The playa€™s book is by David Stern.a€?a€?Schwartz, a prolific composer and lyricist whose resume includes Godspell, Pippin, The Bakera€™s Wife, Working, RagsA and Wicked, has taken more than 25 musical numbers from these and his other works and adapted lyrics to fit Snapshots.
Just as shea€™s almost done, about to make the move and leave, Dan comes up, genuinely confused about what she might be doing up there.A Rather than giving him the letter or informing him of her plans to leave him herself, she comes up with an excuse.
While he gathers them up, one in particular catches his eye -- a photo taken during a trip that they took to the Caribbean many years earlier. Much of the time they act as if they expect one another to be mind readers, each expecting the other to just somehow know what they want them to do or say. Ten years ago we began working with Stephen Schwartz and David Stern to bring this fantastic musical to the stage. The playa€™s book is by David Stern.Schwartz, a prolific composer and lyricist whose resume includes Godspell, Pippin, The Bakera€™s Wife, Working, RagsA and Wicked, has taken more than 25 musical numbers from these and his other works and adapted lyrics to fit Snapshots.
In addition to capturing a moment in time, they hold myriad memories for those whose images are pictured within. A cast of six portrays Dan and Sue at three stages in their lives: as childhood friends, as newlyweds and as a couple whose 30-year marriage is falling apart. As they reflect on their past, they recall happier times they spent together, a few missed opportunities and some of the inevitable challenges every couple faces. It shares similarities with Dan Goggina€™s "Balancing Act,a€? a chamber musical with a main character whose conflicting personalities are played by five actors.
Who doesna€™t remember a first crush, an awkward first kiss, rites of passage and missed opportunities? Evans announce the first show of Northlight's 2010-2011 season, A Snapshots, a new show described by the authors as a "musical scrapbook," that includes some of the best-loved music and lyrics by the creator of Wicked, Godspell, Pippin!
He collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on the English texts for Bernstein's Mass and wrote the title song for the play and movie Butterflies Are Free.
Ken is a BFA graduate of The Juilliard School.A  He is also an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Director's Lab West and the LaMama Italy International Directors Workshop. Several theatre groups staged new versions of it in the summer of 2007, including Dayton, Ohio's The Human Race, whose production is pictured in the photo with cast members Kristy Cates and Michael Marcotte. We probably missed the years it took to develop that command, but the performera€™s execution gives the appearance of it always having been there.
The group that gathered around him at Rockwood included genre-jumping bassist Craig Akin (Red Molly, among others), crackerjack drummer Joel Arnow (crisp and restrained, absolutely perfect) and Philip Sterk on pedal steel. After we got our communication strategy out of the way, Brad filled us in on how all this came to be.
Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Prima and Frank Sinatra took their turns on the stereo. In a sort of limbo, describing that time, Brad says he a€?floated for a while.a€? Having married a few years before, he told me, a€?My daughter Rachel was born, which was a gift from God. He began hanging around the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and became part of its monthly songwriters group, Songwriters Forum, which was similar to the late Jack Hardya€™s weekly Songwritera€™s Exchange in New York.
The album, Down The Line, has done exceptionally well in terms of airplay and sales, but the songs lend themselves to whoever I am playing with, and on stage, these songs take on a life of their own. If Exile was Brad doing a somersault on solid ground, on Down the Line, hea€™s doing cartwheels on a tightrope in mid-air.
However, that said, ita€™s all done so deftly that ita€™s obvious Brad could have gone on indefinitely, making good money fronting rock bands in clubs. He asked himself, a€?How am I going to make this work?a€?A  He had saved a little money for his daughter Rachela€™s schooling, so he felt safe in taking the next step. If a tear doesna€™t slide down your cheek as you watch this, better get your pulse checked. What might be clunky in other hands, flows smoothly under the expert direction of Ken Sawyer. He shows up from work, oblivious as ever, and the two end up looking back through their lives as lovers, parents and take-each-other-for-granted spouses, with the wife's impending exit providing the requisite tension. Press about this show has revealed that Schwartz has re-written some of his lyrics to fit the new narrative, but other than noting such changes in a couple tunes from Wicked, I have no idea what was altered or to what extent. Ita€™s a creative endeavor that works well.a€?a€?The show, featuring a pitch-perfect cast bursting with talent, opens in a cluttered attic where middle-aged Sue (Susie McMonagle), packed suitcase in hand, is poking through keepsakes. While they are up there, Dan starts to go through the items that have gathered over the years, pointing out what he feels they can get rid of. It is also through these glimpses, these memories, that we learn about what really happened versus how they remember certain events in their lives happening, how they went from childhood friends to married couple, to married couple on the verge of breaking up after decades of being together.


Indeed they go to great lengths not to talk about anything of substance, to avoid any unpleasantness or arguments. We then teamed up with Relevant Theatricals (Million Dollar Quartet) and have workshopped SNAPSHOTS at Theatre Works, The Village Theatre, The Human Race Theatre, Seaside Music Theatre and more to come. Schwartz has taken his most famous songs and brilliantly reworked them into an entirely new powerful book written by David Stern. Ita€™s a creative endeavor that works well.The show, featuring a pitch-perfect cast bursting with talent, opens in a cluttered attic where middle-aged Sue (Susie McMonagle), packed suitcase in hand, is poking through keepsakes.
They also have the power to rekindle powerful emotions years, even decades, after they were taken. Schwartz has rewritten many of the lyrics to even the most familiar songs, to stay true to the fascinating story and characters of this new work.A  Funny and bittersweet, Snapshots brings into focus all the wonders and frustrations of trusting your heart and believing your memories. Schwartz was intrigued by the notion, and gave permission for the concept to be developed further. We managed to catch him live at another showcase and he stuck out like a GQ cover model strolling the Bowery. When Brada€™s older brother and sister came home from college, they brought home a deluge of rock a€™na€™ roll.
Brada€™s new impetus was writing songs that were universal, that described the human condition, both othersa€™ stories and his own. It took a strong urge to create a more sublime version of lifea€™s truths to pry him away from repeating that pattern. Brad told her he had quit his job and was going to hit the road to try to break away from the rock a€™na€™ roll patterns hea€™d developed in Chicago.
It took a strong urge to create a more sublime version of lifea€™s truths to pry him away from repeating thatA  pattern.
Their younger selves, variously played by Megan Long, Jess Godwin, Nick Cosgrove and Tony Clarno, act out vistas from their lives, singing Schwartz as they go, often with lyrics newly penned by the composer himself. Feeling distant from her workaholic husband Dan (Gene Weygrandt), she is ready to call it quits after 20 years of marriage to her childhood sweetheart in order to chase a dream of intimacy that has eluded her.a€?a€?Before Sue can get out the door, Dan comes home early from the office and joins her, and the pair spend time pouring over old photos. Feeling distant from her workaholic husband Dan (Gene Weygrandt), she is ready to call it quits after 20 years of marriage to her childhood sweetheart in order to chase a dream of intimacy that has eluded her.Before Sue can get out the door, Dan comes home early from the office and joins her, and the pair spend time pouring over old photos. A Snapshots, with book by David Stern, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, A direction by Ken Sawyer, musical staging by Karl Christian, and musical supervision and arrangements by Steve Orich, will run at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie, September 16 - October 23, 2011.
For films, he collaborated with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney's Enchanted as well as the animated features Pocahontas and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and wrote the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince Of Egypt.
Early versions were produced in the mid 90s, and over time, it evolved in terms of the story and the lyrics.
His voice has a sharp, unerring, laserlike quality, homing in on those uneasy truths most of us evade. I asked Brad how he found Philip, and he replied, a€?Philip was on tour when I heard him playing at The 5 Spot in East Nashville and I started stalking him.a€? Ita€™s obvious why.
He didna€™t break out of the rock realm immediately, but performed with a series of other bands in Chicago.
I guess this was my problem with my old records and where I was as a performer five -10 years ago. While Brad was not entirely satisfied with Exile, he had set the bar pretty high for improvement. These snapshots trigger memories of when they first met, birthday parties, family gatherings, a€?best palsa€? during their college years, dating experiences (with one another and others) and eventually their engagement and birth of a college-age son.
Growing up Susie had her own dreams, wanted her own career, all of which now seems to have taken a backseat to raising a family, while Daniel spent much of his time away, often working 70 hours a week. When I said that the set sounded very Nashville-like, Brad responded, a€?Ita€™s not really what we are going for. Pepper, Frank Zappa, Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Beach Boysa€™ Pet Sounds, The Whoa€™s Tommy, James Taylora€™s Sweet Baby James, Elton Johna€™s Tumbleweed Connection, Blind Faith, and Santanaa€™s Abraxas. While those long hours were necessary early on, when they were young a€“ they wouldna€™t have been able support a family without that job a€“ he long ago could have scaled back to a much more reasonable, manageable schedule that would have allowed him to spend more time with Sue, yet somehow he never did, leaving her to feel essentially alone.
His first opera, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, premiered with Opera Santa Barbara in the fall of 2009.
I get that comment quite a bit and I guess ita€™s because Philip is so present on pedal and dobro, but he isA hugelyA versatile a€” classic country licks in his sleep and Hendrix kind of stuff before breakfast.a€? The wildest part of it is that Philip lives in New York. However, Brad described it as a€?still the same sort of club-rock music.a€? He had fun and grew as a player, but outside of the banda€™s friends and family, no one noticed. But what really brings them to life are four hard-working cast members who re-enact these various milestones in song and dialogue.
Compounding the problem is that Dan has fallen into a familiar pattern of long hours spent at work, not recognizing that there is any sort of problem at home, whatsoever. From his perspective, he doesna€™t recognize that a problem exists, therefore there isna€™t one, all of which leads up to the point where the play begins a€¦ the point at which Sue must decide whether she is to leave or stay and try to work their problems out together. Tony Clarno as Daniel, Jess Godwin as Susan, Nick Cosgrove as Danny and Megan Long as Susie are shadow figures from the past, younger versions of Ken and Sue with whom they often interact. Under the auspices of the ASCAP Foundation, he runs musical theatre workshops in New York and Los Angeles, and is currently the President of the Dramatists' Guild.
As the events play out, they dona€™t always match how the principal characters remember them.A A A  Many of the rekindled events are hilarious. In the first apartment that he will share with Sue, Dan has a number of surprise female visitors, baggage from his past, who literally pop up from the most unexpected places. Schwartz has recently been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Even funnier is a bedroom scene where more ghosts put in an appearance (Godwin, changing wigs and intonation in rapid succession).
Other awards include three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and a tiny handful of tennis trophies.



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