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Passion and perseverance

Heidi Germaine Schnappauf knows a thing or two about following her passion. Her lifelong interest in fitness led to personal training. Her love for theatre culminated in a degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her commitment to martial arts turned into a stint at stunt school in Florida. So in one way, the actress found it easy to relate to Susan, her character in “Tick, Tick ... Boom!”

“It’s actually pretty easy to get into character pursuing a career in the arts,” says Schnappauf.

The part she just doesn’t get? “I don’t know what it means to give up. I’ve never given up,” she says emphatically.

Though Schnappauf’s commitment to a life in the arts is evident, countless others have questioned their own dedication. Including, it seems, lyricist/composer Jonathan Larson. For many, Larson’s name has become synonymous with his award-winning musical “Rent.” But while it is undoubtedly the most famous work of his too-short career, it’s not the only piece he left behind. While Larson was working on the story of struggling artists living at Eleventh Street and Avenue B, he was also telling his own story of artistic struggle in a one-man rock musical called “Boho Days.” After a number of performances and revisions, the show about pursuing an artistic dream was reworked and renamed “Tick, Tick ... Boom!”

Following Larson’s untimely death in 1996, his producing partner, Victoria Leacock, teamed up with playwright David Auburn to increase “Tick, Tick ... Boom!’s” exposure. The one-man piece became a three-character musical, premiering off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre in Spring of 2001 with Raul Esparza starring as Jon. Following a London run, national tour and international productions, “Tick, Tick ... Boom!” is making its way to NEPA courtesy of DGM Productions.

Under the direction of William Mentz, DGM’s production stars Andrew Gruden as Jon, Sean Lenhart as Michael and Schnappauf as Susan. With musical direction by Aimee Radics, “Tick, Tick ... Boom!” uses songs including “Green, Green Dress,” “Therapy,” “Real Life” and “Louder Than Words” to chronicle the looming doubt Jon experiences as his 30th birthday approaches.

“It feels like it’s a bomb about to go off,” says Schnappauf.

While Jon’s struggling to bring his musical “Superbia” to the stage, his best friend Michael has given up his acting career for a stable, lucrative job. Jon’s girlfriend Susan is determined to trade life as a dance teacher in New York City for family life in New England.

Unlike Susan, Schnappauf’s focus on her theatrical endeavors has never wavered.

“I always wanted to do it. I used to see movies and say, ‘I wanna be in that movie.’”

First she hit the stage, auditioning for “Bye, Bye Birdie” in high school and winning a role.

“I almost had to sneak in to my first audition,” Schnappauf says with a laugh. “My father reluctantly told me I could do it as long as I kept my grades up.”

The next stop was the Music Box Dinner Playhouse, where she appeared in “The Sound of Music.” That was the summer after Schnappauf’s freshman year, and since then she’s appeared in more than 60 plays, directed and formed her own theatre group, the Misfit Players.

Schnappauf graduated from NYU in 2006. Like any up-and-coming actress, she has been auditioning. She’s done some television. And last summer, she waited tables and worked on a ranch to put herself through stunt school, learning how to do high falls, run a zip line and fire automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Now Schnappauf is back in NEPA, working onstage, spending some time with family and taking a short break before her next big adventures.

In July, she’ll be riding her bike 400 miles from Boston to Wilkes-Barre to prepare for a cross-country trip. In the fall, it’s off to Los Angeles to pursue a stunt career. Then in the spring, Schnappauf will head from San Diego to New York to raise money for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation. Along the way, she’ll also be documenting her progress and interviewing folks about their beliefs, whether they’re devoted to religion or brushing their teeth twice a day. (Follow Schnappauf’s progress and donate at www.tellmeaboutyourfaith.blogspot.com).

Ideally, Schnappauf would like to make a living combining her talents.

“My dream job wouldn’t be one job. One week doing a play, the next week jumping off a tall building, the next acting in a movie. That would be my dream, combining all facets of my creative and physical passions.”


“Tick, Tick … Boom!,”

June 5-6, 11-13, 8 p.m.; June 6-7, 14, 2 p.m., Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road, Scranton. Tickets: $15 general admission/$12 students/$10 seniors. Info: 570.561.3991, www.dgmproductions.com

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