Brittany Leigh Glenn is getting closer and closer to understanding Sally Bowles.
Glenn is playing the iconic female lead in the Schenectady Light Opera Company’s production of the classic Kander and Ebb musical “Cabaret” opening Friday night and running through Oct. 1. The show opens SLOC’s 91st season.
“I like Sally because you never quite figure her out,” said Glenn, a 2008 Shenendehowa graduate who has performed with SLOC, Home Made Theater and the Not-So-Common Players since graduating from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2012. “She’s kind of a mystery. Some people like her and are really intrigued by her, and some people don’t like her. She’s been performing her entire life, whether it’s in front of an audience or in her real life.”
The show, based on a novel by Chris Isherwood, opened on Broadway in November of 1966 and earned 11 Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including Best Musical. The Hollywood version, with Liza Minelli playing Sally, also won eight Oscars.
Glenn has seen four different stage versions but has never watched the movie. Back in 2013, she played Sally in the show produced by the Local Actors Guild of Saratoga.
“My goal is to make her more understood than she has been in the past,” said Glenn. “Nothing that comes out of her mouth is genuine, so I’m still trying to figure her out. This is my second time playing her, and it’s such a wonderful role I think that’s why I haven’t got bored doing it. She really is a mystery.”
Glenn first saw “Cabaret” at the Park Playhouse in Albany in 2012.
“A friend of mine told me how great it was and that I had to go see it,” said Glenn. “It was amazing. I saw the show and I said to myself, ‘I have to play Sally Bowles someday.’ It’s been a dream role of mine for a while now.”
Glenn also saw a Broadway version with Michelle Williams.
“She actually gave me audition advice after the show at the stage door,” said Glenn, who is an early childhood educator with the Saratoga Head Start program. “I asked her for advice and she said, ‘Nobody’s asked me before.’ So she made me wait, and then came back and talked to me about auditioning for this part. She told me about how much of a challenge it was. It was really cool.”
Glenn says she really wasn’t driven to be a musical theater performer when she was younger.
“I dabbled in a few choruses when I was in high school, and never did any solos,” she said. “I was more of a theater enthusiast. I was more of an athlete in high school, running track and cross-country, but I did go to a lot of shows.”
Slowly, people began noticing Glenn’s singing voice, even if she didn’t herself.
“I was never uncomfortable singing when I was younger, but I never really knew that I could sing well,” she said. “I always thought my voice blended in nicely with the chorus. I never thought I was worthy of a solo. But then people started giving me solos. I was like, ‘Well, OK, I must sound OK.’ So I just took the roles I was given, started working very hard and started getting bigger parts.”
Since her first show at SLOC, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in 2013, Glenn has also gotten herself involved in directing and choreography. While she wants to continue those pursuits, singing and acting will likely remain her top priorities.
“When I’m singing ‘Cabaret’ and walk off that stage, I tell people, ‘I have no idea what just happened,'” said Glenn. “That song is so heart-wrenching and emotional. You have to just do it every night and not worry about being prepared. You have to be in the moment and just sing. I can’t say it’s my favorite song to sing, because it takes so much out of me.”
Peter Caracappa is directing “Cabaret.” Joining Glenn onstage are Oliver Ord as the Emcee, James Alexander as Cliff, Melissa Putterman Hoffman as Fraulein Schneider and Gary Hoffman as Herr Schultz.
Dan Galliher is the musical director and Gregory Marsh is handling the choreography.
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Oct. 1; performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Friday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $28-$22
MORE INFO: 1 (877) 350-7378 or visit www.sloctheater.org