BWW Interview: James Snyder talks about EVER AFTER and Birdland
Remember the adage "a rolling stone gathers no moss"? It was something youngsters memorized in school 'back in the day. It was also something that was stitched into samplers by nimble-fingered grandmothers. Basically, it meant that someone who keeps on the move will not grow stagnant emotionally, physically or professionally. Such is the case with Broadway's James Snyder. After performing opposite Idina Menzel in the musical IF/THEN for a full year, Snyder took his wife and young son the California, where they visited family before returning to New York for more work.
Prior to IF/THEN, Snyder was seen on Broadway in John Waters' short-lived musical CRY-BABY. IF/THEN had a considerable longer run. What was it like giving roughly 400 performances in the same role?
In a phone conversation, Snyder remarked: "It was strange mixture of joy and camaraderie, along with the realization that being on Broadway is a job. Eight shows in six days can become very tiring; actually a grind. It's not that I ever dreaded going to work because I always maintained a level of gratitude. It's interesting because when you're in a show for a year, your life really isn't your own for that whole period. At the same time I realized I had this amazing job that was supporting me and my family. It was also allowing us to live in New York City and have fun here. At the same time the show WAS my life. I was just very lucky to be in a long run with so many outstanding people both onstage and off." After a bit of reflection, the actor added, "It's the only thing I could imagine doing."
As is the case with so many other actors, James Snyder relishes taking on new parts. "I enjoy the new musicals," the actor says, "and finding new aspects of myself in the process. Of course I can do that off stage as well, but diving into a new role is very rewarding."
Snyder is presently diving into a new role at New Jersey's Papermill Playhouse. He's rehearsing a major part in the new musical EVER AFTER. "It's based on the Drew Barrymore movie from 1998," her remarks. "The movie was CINDERELLA with a twist. This is CINDERELLA with a huge musical theater twist.." The show was written by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrisch and is being directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. In addition to Snyder, the cast includes Christine Ebersole, Charles Shaugnessy (of TV's "The Nanny'), Tony Sheldon, Mara Davi and Julie Halston, among others. "I think the writers have a very quirky sensibility and are certainly the people to bring this story to life in a new way."
He continues, "Margo Seibert plays Danielle--she's not even called 'Cinderella' In this version--and is a strong, driven woman who wants nothing to do with fancy gowns or going to the ball. She wants to support the people she loves. Unfortunately she's been subjected to some serious problems with bad in-laws."
"It's a huge production," the actor continues. "Christine Ebersole looked at the cast list and said to me, 'This is the biggest cast I've ever been in!' We have a cast of thirty in this show."
When discussing the score for EVER AFTER, Snyder effuses. "It's grand. I get a chance to go back to the Rodgers and Hammerstein/Billy Bigelow sound that I love to sing, yet there's a quirky spin on everything." As for the show itself, he states: "It's a fun, sweet show--the kind you can take your children and grandchildren to and everyone will leave feeling touched and happy."
When asked whether a show this big was bound for Broadway, Snyder sighs and says, "I feel that the composers are super-due for Broadway; I think everyone in it is brilliant and I think everyone involved in the production is brilliant. The pedigree is there but it's so hard to tell these days."
In addition to preparing for a new show in New Jersey, James Snyder is also putting together a concert that will be performed at Birdland on 44th Street on May 3rd at 6 PM.
The actor is very much in a fair tale-state-of-mind right now and the concert he's piecing together regards what a musical theater prince goes through as he assumes his royal place. "At first I called it "James Snyder: Prince Charming" but then I realized I wanted everyone to leave the concert knowing how to be a prince but then I realized I wanted everyone to know how to be a prince. So for me it's a tribute to that journey and I poke a little fun at myself and what everyone's idea of Prince Charming is. I guess you might say it's a 'princely journey through musical theater'. For the record, the show is now billed as 'James Snyder: Live at Birdland.
The concert will consist of a few songs Snyder has written, some pops tunes and music from THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, THE BOOK OF MORMON and INTO THE WOODS. Charl Brown of MOTOWN will join Snyder on the latter. All of this, coupled with Snyder's ineffable charm and stage presence promises to make this a memorable evening at Birdland.
If this isn't enough to fill James Snyder's plate: he and his wife, Jacqueline, are expecting their second child--a girl-- at the end of June. The actor is bracing for another round of late night feeding and diaper changes. Surely this little girl is destined to be the apple of her father's eye.
Yes, there is plenty of activity in James Snyder's life right now. To borrow a lyric from Oscar Hammerstein II, Snyder is a stone that "just keeps rollin' along." Surely that stone will pause just a bit at Birdland and the Papermill Playhose before it rolls on to even bigger and better things.
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To order tickets for EVER AFTER, go to Paper Mill Playhouse
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Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos