(Photo credit, scroll down *) Ashley Brown, who won the hearts of all who saw her as the magical “Mary Poppins” when Dallas Summer Musicals brought the show’s national tour to the Music Hall at Fair Park in 2010, is back in a surprising new role
While the young star has played Maria for several regional productions of The Sound of Music, for the new national tour she will play the Mother Abbess, a role usually played by an older actress.
It’s all part of the new strategy adopted by Director Jack O’Brien, Ashley says. “Everyone in the production is younger, which make the show that much more realistic,” she adds. “For instance, when Mary Martin first originated the role on Broadway, she was over 40 years old.”
“The Mother Abbess and Maria are not that far apart in age in this version, which makes their relationship more interesting.” Ashley says.. “While the Mother Abbess is young to make the decision to commit herself to a religious life, she can relate to Maria’s questions about her own path and her future.”
While Ashley had never worked with O’Brien before, she says, “I had not planned to do any more tours, but when Jack called to ask me to join this tour, I couldn’t say no. He is one of those directors who gets it. He makes you better, not just as a performer but going forward into all aspects of your life. I will take things I’ve learned from working with him into every role I play in the future.”
Ashley says, “Jack really delved into the script, finding things that hadn’t been discovered in earlier versions of the show. He has brought out more of the humor, for one thing. And you really find yourself rooting for the lovers (Capt. von Trapp and Maria); no one in this stage version is a cookie cutter image from the movie.”
Ashley first toured with Disney’s On the Record right out of college, before going on to create the role of Mary Poppins on Broadway and on tour.
“After seven years of performing eight shows a week on Broadway and on tour, I wanted to take time to discover who Ashley Brown is, not some iconic character I was playing on stage. And I just love it, I’ve been performing with some of the major symphony orchestras in the world such as New York Philharmonic and BBC Orchestra. A highlight for me was playing Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra.”
Ashley was most recently seen by Dallas music lovers in her Cabaret performance with Dallas Symphony Pops Orchestra at the Meyerson October 23 and 24. Her album comprised of American Songbook and Broadway tunes, “Speak Low,” is available on amazon.com and iTunes.
Starring along with Ashley will be Kerstin Anderson, a sophomore at Pace University, as Maria, and Ben Davis as Captain von Trapp.
The Sound of Music, directed by Jack O’Brien with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, is great family entertainment. The film version starring Julie Andrews celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and retains its title as our most beloved movie musical.
The national touring production of The Sound of Music will be presented by DSM Nov. 3-22, 2015 at the Music Hall at Fair Park.
For more information or to reserve tickets, please visit www.dallassummermusicals.org.
* The slideshow image is a non-copyrighted image taken from the internet of the scenery at Salzburg. It is not of the musical – but is meant to evoke the feeling of the location.