Courtney Glass is no newcomer to theatre. Her credits include the original Broadway production of The Women in White and she has extensive principal experience in American regional theatre. Now based in Sydney, she appeared in Squabbalogic Independent Theatre’s production of Man Of La Mancha, The New Theatre’s production of Sweeney Todd and made her Sydney Opera House debut in Of Thee I Sing. When Courtney Glass steps out onto the stage of the Alex Theatre, St Kilda this week in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown it will mark her Melbourne theatre debut. However, it’s not the time she’s appeared in this award winning family musical.
“When I was twelve, my local community children’s theatre group put on a production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown in which I played Schroeder! So I did a little bit of cross-dressing,” laughed Glass, adding, “It’s nice to be on the other side of the piano!”
Courtney Glass describes herself as “American by birth and Australian by marriage”. She grew up in Sacramento, California, not too far from Santa Rosa where the Charles M Schulz Museum is located.
“I remember as a child, going to the Schulz museum and to the lovely garden in Santa Rosa with a metal sculpture of Snoopy, which is actually in honour of Charles Schulz,” commented Glass.
For this production, Courtney Glass will take on the role of Lucy.
“Lucy is a very determined young lady, with great ambition, who will stop at no lengths to achieve what she believes is right for her, even if she’s treading on people’s toes to get there. But she has a heart of gold and definitely has a soft spot for Schroeder,” explained Glass.
Like so many other people around the world, Glass grew up with the Peanuts gang, but to prepare for the role she did her homework, reading through the famous comic strips and “falling down the You Tube rabbit hole of watching television episodes” to really identify all of the mannerisms and body poses that her character Lucy defaults to, in order to bring these into her on stage portrayal.
To prepare for performing as Lucy, Glass said she does an extensive vocal warm up to protect her classically trained voice. She then does some physical moves to make her feel powerful, such as push ups, having a wrestle with Linus or a tug of war with his blanket to get revved up into what she refers to as a “powerful feeling”.
While Glass admits that audiences will probably start out loving to hate Lucy, she hopes that by the end of the show they’ll grow to love her.
“I think all the characters are flawed, but Lucy is more obviously flawed from the onset of the show. As she reveals herself through the two acts I think you come to an understanding,” said Glass, explaining that kids who are bullies are usually covering up a great amount of insecurity.
This award-winning musical is a wonderful show for the whole family to enjoy, but it’s more than just a kids entertainment show. Glass describes it as being “hilarious” but also “poignant”.
“I think at first glance, people think Charlie Brown and they think musical comedy – and rightfully so, it was a comic strip,” Glass said, but then explained that when you go back and really look at the original sketches by Charles M Schulz and then compare them with the themes we read about in newspapers today, the same threads appear: loneliness, depression, self-esteem and insecurity. It all makes for a much more well-rounded piece of theatre.
“People can take away more than just a night of laughs at the theatre,” Glass commented.
As for the take-home message of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown? Courtney Glass didn’t want to give too much away about the plot, but said the final song is a beautiful synthesis of what the characters are trying to do.
“It reaches a lovely point towards the end. The six kids are looking back at their day and realising happiness is something we all look for in different ways. That’s what we’re all interested in and there’s a better chance of getting that if we all work together. These stories have been around for a long time but they’re really relevant for today still.”
Whether you’re a fan of Peanuts or very new to these delightful characters, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown will appeal to everyone.
You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown opens at The Alex Theatre, St Kilda this week.