Dallas — Renowned Broadway star Ashley Brown will accompany the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for two nights, Oct. 23-24, in Come to the Cabaret, part of the DSO Pops series. Brown is well-acquainted with this kind of performance; she has played with nearly every top orchestra in the nation. Brown has developed what she likes to call "Ashley Brown’s Broadway": a collection of her favorite songs, including Broadway favorites, classic Disney songs and some from her solo album Speak Low.
A native of Gulf Breeze, Fla., Brown grew up singing in her church choir. She is the youngest of four children and the only one in her family who sings. She knew this was her calling at a young age, and did as many plays and musicals as she could, as well as taking voice lessons. She knew she was destined for Broadway. Brown is most famously known for originating the role of Mary Poppins on Broadway, but she is no stranger to the stage. This also is not her first visit to Dallas. She spent several weeks here with the tour of Beauty and the Beast, in which she played Belle. She has also performed with the Fort Worth Symphony. She took time to chat with TheaterJones about her favorite kind of music, and why she loves orchestral performances the most.
TheaterJones: Just to be clear, you won’t be performing an evening of songs from Cabaret?
Ashley Brown: No, it’s a compilation of all different kinds of songs. I prefer to call it "Ashley Brown's Broadway," but I’m not really in charge of getting to name things!
So what will audiences hear for these performances?
They will hear some Judy Garland, a Disney medley, some songs from my albuma and some Defying Gravity. It’s all put together by me. I think it’s a really fun mix of music and dance.
You’ve performed with a lot of different orchestras around the country. What’s the difference between doing this and being on Broadway in a full production?
The main difference is that I’m on stage with the orchestra and I just get to be me. I’m just Ashley on stage. When I’m on Broadway I’m playing a character, which I love. It’s fun to just come out and be myself sometimes, too.
How did you land Mary Poppins?
After nine auditions! I bought my one-way ticket after graduating from college and went straight to New York.
Had you done much before getting that role?
I had done a compilation of Disney songs, mostly classic ones, called On the Record. It was a blast and people really loved it.
What’s your dream music show?
I love country music! I would love to put together something with songs by Carrie Underwood or Faith Hill. I would love to do just a country-music compilation, though.
Is that your favorite music to listen to?
Yes. I don’t listen to a lot of Broadway in my free time. It feels too much like work. I’m constantly analyzing.
Do you see a lot of Broadway shows?
Yes. I just saw Hamilton, which was as amazing as everyone says. I love that right now there is such a mix of classic shows like On the Town with new stuff like Fun Home.
Do you have a favorite performance that you’ve done in your career?
Show Boat is one of my all-time favorites. I love that show and it was so much fun to do.
What are you most looking forward to for your return to Dallas?
Rediscovering all my favorite places to visit and eat. I really loved my time in Dallas and I’m excited to be back.