I was led to Glass Mask mostly because I was looking for another rivalry story like the one in Hikaru no Go, and this was recommended on Anime Planet's Hikaru no Go page. Also, while I had no previous knowledge of Go, I am a lifelong theatre professional, so this would be more of my own world.
In the end, after 51 episodes, the rivalry between Maya and Ayumi - though it mirrored that of Hikaru and Akira - it failed to live up to the same degree of oomph. For 51 episodes, I willingly suspended my disbelief about so many aspects of theatre. "If you don't get this right on the first try, you're a failure as an actor!" "There are only two actresses in all of Japan who could possibly play this captivating earth-shattering role!" And of course, every time Maya or Ayumi take stage, audience members lose control of their gutteral utterances and begin a wave of gasps. This really only scratches the surface of the grains of salt I had to take with this show to enjoy it.
What wound up captivating me was the intriguing role of Hayami Masumi, a cold-hearted and highly imperfect young businessman who finds his heart warmed (highly inconvenient for hisplans) by young, innocent, brave-hearted Maya. Yes, their story veered into the ick factor as often as not - as he's a full-grown buff-chested man when she's still a young petite teen, and he has this creepy habit of showing up unexpectedly. Ah the trope is so stereotypical, the dashing, internally troubled man who secretly admires you and only you can save him... :-) Not so great in real life, but is a nice indulgence for a dream. You could almost believe romance under the stars was still possible for someone like you after some of those scenes.
Apart from Hayami Masumi, I was unable to really become attracted to any other character. I came closest to appreciating Ayumi, Maya's privileged, talented rival in the acting world who is not an enemy as she is a perfectly dignified young woman who often speaks up on Maya' behalf when others would tear her down. Not until the last few episodes does she risk losing her composure and becoming unworthy of our admiration. Yet somehow, I personally was never able to really love her. Maya never really grabbed me either, since she never really seemed to know anything that was going on, and Tsukikage, Maya's old mentor and teacher, was just a ridiculous person who caused a lot of trouble and slapped Maya a lot. In the end, I had to wonder how long she was going to drag Maya and Ayumi along, only to deny one of them the role they had fought so long for.