Q&A with Ashley Brown
by Kayla Moore
How did you get your start in musical theatre and, eventually, on Broadway?
I started singing in church when I was six years old, and my love of music and performance catapulted from there. I did my first musical in high school and was hooked. I knew I had to be on stage. After I graduated high school, I was lucky enough to be accepted into CCM, where I received my BFA in Musical Theater. After graduation I bought my one-way ticket to NYC, and I got my first job with Disney Theatrical Group from my Senior Showcase in NYC. It’s been such an exciting ride.
What was the moment you realized you wanted to turn your passion for the stage into a career?
In high school it really clicked for me. I realized I was different—different in that I was so passionate about performing, I just loved it—way more than the person next to me. It was my life, more so than an extracurricular for me. I attended the Broadway Theater Project during the summer and loved every minute. It was an intense program that weeded out the ones who weren’t serious, and I realized I wanted to be there and had to be on stage. I loved, and still love, to work on my craft.
Among the roles you’ve played, what are your favorites?
It’s so hard to choose, as I love different roles for different reasons. I loved playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast because it was my Broadway debut and, growing up, I had always loved the movie. I love Mary Poppins because I was able to invent her on stage. I got to be the first Mary Poppins on stage, so she is just a part of me and always will be. I loved playing Magnolia in Showboat because I felt I was most like her in real life.
What’s your personal favorite Broadway musical?
My Fair Lady—the transition Eliza goes through in that show is every actress’ dream. I relate to her so much, and the score to that musical cannot be beat!!
Who is your inspiration as an artist?
I love Audra McDonald—she’s the perfect example of balance, since she has children and this amazing family as well as a successful career. She’s down to earth, approachable and real. She gives all women the hope and the belief that it can all be done. We CAN do it all!!
Do you try to emulate your inspirations on the stage?
I wouldn’t say I emulate them onstage. I’m inspired by people all the time, but I’m just me onstage. I’m the only me in the world, so it’s all I know to be. What is one role you hope to portray at some point in your career? I would love to play Anna in The King and I—I love all of the older musicals!!!
Any exciting new projects on the horizon?
I’ve been really focused on my concert career these past few years, so this year coming back to Cincinnati to sing with the Pops is a dream come true. I’m also doing a solo show at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony, and also at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops. I’ve been involved with some readings of new shows as well, so there are lots of exciting things happening!