Broadway's original Mary Poppins was destined for the role. Songbird Ashley Brown, born 20 years after Disney's movie release, grew up watching the film at home.
"Being a little girl from the South, I never thought it would be in the cards for me, playing an English nanny," she said. "Back then, I had my own dance to every number; I knew all the words."
Thursday at Strathmore, she performs "A Spoon Full of Sugar," along with some of the most popular musical selections from stage and film, when she stars with wildly popular Pops conductor Jack Everly and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a program devoted to Broadway hits and Disney classics.
Brown, who Showbiz Chicago calls "the most versatile and noteworthy young talent on the Broadway stages," is the perfect choice for this musical salute to the toe-tapping tunes America has come to call their own.
|Jack Everly and the BSO Broadway Classics with Ashley Brown|
|» Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda|
|» When: 8 p.m. Thursday|
|» Info: $29 to $91; 410-783-8000; bsomusic.org|
"[Jack and I] work together a lot, actually," she said. "He gave me my first orchestra job back in 2004 [and] hired me right out of college to sing with the Indianapolis Symphony. It was a dream come true to be onstage with an orchestra."
Brown enjoys having the option of doing a Broadway show (where she is part of a huge, visual performance, creating a character onstage, such as Poppins) and then performing in concerts and cabarets as, she notes, "just Ashley."
"I can break that 'fourth wall,' and I can talk to audiences," she said. "I don't have to say the same [lines] every night; I can be more organic."
In that respect, she is very much like Everly, himself, who is known and appreciated for providing background information on the music while drawing the audience to him with his humorous quips. Putting the show together was about finding the music both he and Brown love performing. These include songs such as "A Whole New World" from "Aladdin," "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked" and a perennial favorite, "Make Someone Happy."
"I think people will be surprised at how much they can relate to these songs," Brown said.