Shenendehowa grad pays dues in pursuit of success on the stage

Brittany Leigh Glenn, third from left, stands with her other cast members of "The Marvelous Wonderettes," recently staged at a Colonie church.Brittany Leigh Glenn, third from left, stands with her other cast members of "The Marvelous Wonderettes," recently staged at a Colonie church.

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
CLIFTON PARK — Even though she graduated from Shenendehowa — a school known for its excellent drama programming — Brittany Leigh Glenn didn’t get into theater until she was a freshman at SUNY Plattsburgh, when she took intro to acting as an elective to avoid taking public speaking as a liberal arts credit.

“I had the most amazing teacher, Derrick Hopkins, and I’ll always tell him to this day that he is the first person I will thank in my Tony speech if I ever win one,” Glenn said. “I wasn’t that good, but he saw something in me and pushed me and encouraged me to try out for things that I was terrified to try out for.”

In her sophomore year, she tried out for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“I sang a Jason Mraz song, which is not something you sing at a “Rocky Horror” audition,” she said with a laugh. “They were like, ‘Are you really singing Jason Mraz?’ ” She scored a part within the ensemble.

“After that, I thought of myself as ensemble girl who couldn’t really sing but could sing well enough to get into the ensemble of shows,” Glenn recalled.

Then the summer before her senior year, she landed the role of Mimi in “Rent” — her first lead. “Because of that show, I was able to gain confidence in myself, and I was able to see that this was something I could do,” she said. “I finally felt worthy of that role.”

Glenn graduated from Shenendehowa in 2008 and earned her degree in education and theater from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2012. Since then, she has resided back in her hometown of Clifton Park. She’s a full-time nanny while still doing a lot of theater. “My schedule is wake up at 6 a.m., nanny, theater, sleep, repeat,” she joked.

Her mother, Sherrie, was a manager of a Blockbuster (now extinct) and currently works for Trustco Bank. Her father, Michael, is a retired Navy veteran.

Since moving back into this area, she has been in several shows, including “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at Schenectady Light Opera Company, “Spring Awakening” at The Egg, “Guy and Dolls” at SLOC, and “Cabaret” in the local actors guild of Saratoga, as well as choreographing “Young Frankenstein” and “South Pacific” at SLOC.
Her most recent role was in the musical comedy “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” which blasts the audience into the past and pays tribute to the high school song-leader squads of the 1950s. It was staged at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Colonie in late March.

Glenn played Cindy Lou, one of the four leading roles. “She is the prom queen hopeful; she’s very much the Regina George of the group,” Glenn said. “She’s the superficial mean girl, but she’s totally fun to play because I always try to be nice.”

Each of the four girls had a different color; Cindy Lou is pink, so both of her costumes are in that particular hue. There are only two costumes because the girls never leave the stage for either act, so the only time they changed was during intermission.

“It’s been one of the best experiences ever,” Glenn said. “The girls are so nice and we all get along so well; we really feed off of each other.”

The entire production is literally a show within a show. In Act I, the foursome is asked by their principal to provide the entertainment at their high school prom. The girls are dressed in frills, the classic prom gowns of the 1950s.

Then in Act II, they take the stage again at their 10-year reunion. The costumes for this half of the show are more comfortable — simple, plain dresses that stop above the knee, feather jackets and go-go boots that scream the 1960s, color-coded of course.

The music consists entirely of pop songs from the 1950s and 1960s. “My favorite songs are the ones I sing backup for, because I’m a huge harmony nerd,” Glenn said. “It’s awesome to hear the blend of our voices.”

She hopes to continue to work with youth and young adults in theater world.

“Acting gives you a chance to be someone else for a day. You go through your day-to-day life and things may seem mundane and boring, but when you step into rehearsal you get to be a different person,” Glenn said. “It’s also therapeutic because you’re pretending to be someone else, but you’re also adding elements of your own life into it. It’s almost like being able to see your life through a new perspective.”