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