Brutally Honest Blond - Petite Opera Speaks with Sally Brown

Helen Knudsen Brings Refreshing Honesty to Sally Brown in Petite Opera's upcoming production 

Helen Knudsen
What roles have you performed, which groups have you worked with?
I have recently performed with the G&S Opera Company in H.M.S. Pinafore, and with kor/ Productions in Bohème in a Bar. I have also worked with Piven Theatre (u/s Cassie in the American Premier of Tusk, Tusk) where I will be apprenticing this summer.

Which role have you most enjoyed portraying, or are you most proud of and why?
Although every role as I’m playing it is my favorite, my recent experience in H.M.S. Pinafore with Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company is definitely a highlight. I was cast as a cabin-girl among the all-male sailor’s chorus, and had a lot of freedom to develop my own little  character within the ship’s crew. Another role I have to mention was as Kala in Tarzan; it was fascinating to get inside the mind of a mother gorilla. And I can’t forget my experience in Godspell, working with a very close and talented ensemble to create a beautiful story.

Tell us about your upcoming engagements.
This summer, I will be directing a sixth season with the theatre company I founded, DIY Teen Theatre. We will be producing Seussical and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, two very different shows, both of which I am very excited for! (www.diyteentheatre.com).

What fascinates you about the SALLY BROWN character in Snoopy?
I love that Sally is the most typical little kid in this show. She is brutally honest, and doesn’t see anything wrong with that. Her loyalties change throughout the show depending on what fits her own motives best. She is incredibly lazy, and yet will expend an enormous amount of effort in search of the easiest way to achieve her goals.

What do you think the other SNOOPY characters feel towards SALLY?
Funny enough, most of the characters ignore Sally most of the time.This enables her to shoot off one-liners and not get caught up in sandbox politics.

What is the most enlightening thing SALLY learns through the course of the show?
The interesting thing about comic strip characters is that in their purpose, they don’t evolve at all. Sally stays the same age over the run of the comic strip, and the simple fact that the character learns nothing from her experiences, inspires the audience to do that learning. The audience “grows up” while Sally and her fellow Peanuts stay the same.

How are those characteristics embodied in you as a performer?
Sally’s personality exaggerates characteristics that many little girls share. Stubbornness, inconsistency, and the ability to rebound instantly from anything life throws at them. She is the ultimate problem solver, and is not afraid to go after what she wants, two traits I admire.

What do you find most difficult about portraying SALLY?
As an actor who is used to taking a character off a script and make her multi-dimensional. It is an entirely different challenge figuring out how to portray Sally as a two-dimensional comic book character. The more I get to know her, the more she refuses to stay on the page. It’s tough sometimes to get into the psyche of a little cartoon character, but I honestly take all my cues from an 11-year-old who I directed as Sally in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. She had a natural connection to Sally, and inspires me to bring out my inner child.

Why do you think patrons should come see this show over any other options they have for Apr 25-May 4, 2014?
This show is fun for all ages. Little kids can teach us so many life lessons that some adults spend their lives trying to figure out.
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Petite Opera performs SNOOPY!!! the musical April 25-27, May 2-4, 2014 at Mary Wilson House Beyer Auditorium, part of St. Mary's Episcopal Church campus, 306 S Prospect Ave at Crescent Ave (enter on Crescent Ave), Park Ridge, IL.  Call 847-553-4442 to reserve tickets, or purchase tickets online via credit card (convenience charges apply to credit card orders). 
Petite Opera is a professional 501c3 opera company


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