Cast as Maria in the Franklin Performing Arts Company's upcoming presentation of The Sound of Music, Franklin's Erica Glenn says her life has mirrored pages from the script.
"I've really felt like Maria at times," she notes.
Glenn has been a governess and recently lived with Catholic nuns in a New York City convent that had been converted into a residence hall for young women while interning with legendary Broadway composer Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye, Bye Birdie). Having lived in England with the family of a bishop and in Ukraine with fellow Latter-Day Saint missionaries from Armenia, Russia and Mongolia, Glenn has had her own share of adventures and opportunities to forge her own paths.
"I can appreciate how Maria felt approaching Captain von Trapp's home for the very first time. I remember what I was thinking as I walked up to Mr. Strouse's apartment for our initial meeting: I'm paying a personal call on the man who wrote Annie and Bye, Bye Birdie - the man who studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger and Aaron Copland and who was a close friend of Leonard Bernstein!"
That 2011 experience provided Glenn with the chance to assist Strouse and his collaborative partner, Richard Maltby (lyricist for Miss Saigon and Baby), with such varied projects as transcriptions, arrangements, accompaniment and assistant music directing. Glenn, a prolific composer and playwright, has already had six plays published and her shows have been produced across the US and in the UK, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, Australia and Ukraine. She wrote her first piano solo at age 6 and a full-length, award-winning musical at age 12. The 26-year-old received her master's in composition from Boston's Longy School of Music, where she studied on the Nadia and Lila Boulanger Scholarship.
Her original musical, The Weaver of Raveloe, was performed last year as a developmental reading at the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival. The musical is based on the George Eliot novel Silas Marner and explores the timeless themes of love, loss and healing. With Broadway dominated in recent years by pop- and rock-based musicals, Glenn recalls the public's ongoing infatuation with the wildly successful Les Miserables and foresees a return to epic stories that have their roots in classic novels. Of Glenn's score, Charles Strouse had this praise: "The music is full of drama and rich in harmonic and melodic substance."
The lyric soprano teaches voice and piano to over 60 private students at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts and works as an adjunct faculty member at Dean College. One of Glenn's earlier performing experiences, at age 10, was in the role of Brigitta, one of the younger von Trapp children in The Sound of Music.
"Returning to the show as Maria has brought back wonderful memories," said Glenn. "I have been so impressed by the level of talent and professionalism among the children and the way they all support each other. Rehearsing our scenes is almost too much fun - we get to jump on beds, play leapfrog and yodel!" This is Glenn's second role with the Franklin Performing Arts Company, having portrayed the Ghost of Christmas Past in FPAC's 2012 holiday production of Humbug.
FPAC will present The Sound of Music, with professional orchestra, on Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. at Franklin's Thomas D. Mercer Auditorium, 224 Oak Street. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical theater classic has delighted audiences for generations and features such beloved classics as "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
The talented cast of 111 performers comes from 21 area towns. Bob Matson of Millis will perform the principal role of the Captain. The von Trapp children will be portrayed by Sam Evans (Kurt) of Medfield, Michael Fajardo (Friedrich) of Hopkinton, Ali Funkhouser (Liesl) of Franklin, Teagan McStay (Louisa) of Franklin, Mairead Nee (Brigitta) of Walpole, Catherine Oliviere (Marta) of North Easton and Grace Tucceri (Gretl) of Franklin. Actors cast in featured roles include Graham Hancock (Rolf Gruber) of Franklin, Amanda Flynn (Baroness Elsa Schraeder) of Plainville, Nick Paone (Max Detweiler) of Franklin and Shauna Martin (Mother Abbess) of Franklin.
Raye Lynn Mercer and Nick Paone co-direct the production, with musical direction by Hallie Wetzell, choreography by Mercer and Kellie Stamp, and costuming and production coordination by Tracy Lane.