Not Bossy but Authoritative – Petite Opera Speaks with Lucy Van Pelt

Rena Ahmed Plays a Spunky, Strong-Willed Lucy Van Pelt in Petite Opera’s upcoming production

Rena Ahmed

She’s not bossy, she just has good ideas. The know-it-all who really just means well, Lucy represents the spunky kid in every crowd.  Petite Opera sat down with Rena Ahmed to see what it’s like playing the strong-willed Lucy Van Pelt.

Rena, tell us what roles have you performed in and around Chicago, and which groups you have worked with.

I’ve played Eileen/When Angels Wept (New Lincoln Theatre), Frau Schreiman/Music in the Air (Music by the Lake),
Middle Aged Woman/The People’s Four
(Quest Theatre Ensemble), Principessa/Suor Angelica (Emerald City Opera Institute).

Which role have you most enjoyed portraying,
or are you most proud of and why?

Some of my favorite roles include The
Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Agnes
Gooch in Mame, Principessa in Suor Angelica, and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. The most fun was Agnes
Gooch. I loved her complete innocence and naivety. And I got to play a pregnant
woman in hideously ugly glasses! I am most proud of my recent work as Eileen in
When Angels Wept. It’s an original
play about the fire at Our Lady of Angels church in Chicago. I was the mother
of a child who died in the fire. It was my first straight acting role (no
singing) and I had to connect to some very deep emotions. It was truly
exhausting – especially on days when we had two performances. I also got the
opportunity to try out my Irish accent and I had a very brief “mad
scene”. All in all it was a challenge, but very rewarding.

What are your upcoming engagements?
I have started a new company in Chicago
called Third Eye Theatre Ensemble. We will be performing The Medium by Menotti this fall.
What fascinates you about the LUCY VAN PELT character in Snoopy?
I think Lucy means well. She has a
genuine desire to help others. We see this in her scene with washing Linus’s
blanket and in her scene with Charlie Brown where she is giving him advice on
his personal philosophy. Sure, she is charging money for her advice, but she
really wants to help. Unfortunately Lucy doesn’t have the best people skills
yet, and she often ends up being insulting. It’s fascinating to see such a
dichotomy. She wants to help, but often she ends up hurting instead. She also
sees herself as the smartest person in the room even though she regularly
misuses words, or makes inaccurate historical references. She really has no
idea that she isn’t quite as smart as she thinks she is.
What do you think the other SNOOPY characters feel towards
I think the other characters look up to
Lucy and consider her a leader. Even though she doesn’t always have the right
information, none of the other kids seem to know that. She exudes confidence,
and they follow her lead.
What is the most enlightening thing LUCY learns through the course
of the show?
Lucy is very hard on Charlie Brown –
especially in her last scene with him. In the very last song of the show she
watches the other kids rally around Charlie Brown and realizes that it is
important we believe in each other, in spite of our faults.
How are those characteristics embodied in
you as a performer?
Lucy has a very dry wit, though I don’t
think she really knows it. Sometimes my wit is so dry, people don’t know I’m
making a joke! Lucy is also very competitive and wants to be the best at
everything. I may have a small competitive streak in me…I play basketball
against my husband who is 6’4″. A few summers ago I played basketball with
a group of 7 men and I was the only woman. Mind you, I’m not really that good.
I just like to compete! And let’s not forget that on the rare occasions when my
husband and I disagree…I am always right. Of course! Fortunately, my husband is
kind enough to let me believe that.
What do you find most difficult about
Lucy really can be quite mean. Her words
are often hurtful. I don’t think she often realizes how mean she can be. This
has been challenging for me. Sometimes I say her lines and think – wow – that
is really mean! Even though I can be sarcastic in real life, deep down I am not
a mean person. I don’t think Lucy is either. I just think she doesn’t realize
what she’s saying. I think she speaks before she thinks a lot of the time.
Why do you think patrons should come see
this show over any other options they have for Apr 25-May 4, 2014?

Have you ever seen Snoopy!!! The Musical before? Probably not. You’ll be delighted
with this show. It is fun for the whole family!


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