Ashley Brown Takes On Seven Questions About Her Christmas Concert with the New York Pops, Advice for Mary Poppins Stars, & Her "O Holy Night" Inspiration

Last updated December 18th, 2018 by Josh Ferri
Ashley Brown Takes On Seven Questions About Her Christmas C…

After making her Broadway debut as Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Ashley Brown originated the role of Mary Poppins in the blockbuster Broadway musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film, earning herself a 2007 Drama Desk nomination. Since then, she's starred in Songs for a New World, the national tour of The Sound of Music, and Showboat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

On December 21 and 22, Ashley Brown celebrates the holidays with the incredible New York Pops at Carnegie Hall headlining the Pops' highly-anticipated annual Christmas concert Under the Mistletoe

. BroadwayBox caught up with Ashley to discuss the show, her "O Holy Night" with five key changes, advice for Mary Poppins actresses, and more!

1. What’s one holiday tradition you look forward to each year?
I'm really close with my family. All my family lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida (near Pensacola), and every year—whether I'm able to be with them or not, because obviously I'm working a lot in the holidays most of the time—we all wear matching pajamas. So, no matter where anybody is in the world, my mom makes sure everybody gets their pair, and we wear them Christmas Eve. That's something we've done since we were kids and it's just really special. So even if we're not together, we feel as if we are because we're wearing the same outfits.

2. What is the holiday film that you try to make time for every year?
Well, it's changed this year because I have a two-year-old, so she loves Mickey Mouse Christmas. But I guess the holiday film I love is Love Actually. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. It's just one of those I could never get sick of watching.

3. Final Christmas question: what's one thing on your wish list this year?
For the first time, all my family is coming to New York City for Christmas because my entire family is flying up to see my show at Carnegie Hall. We have a house now—it's our first year—and Carnegie Hall is so close. So, my Christmas wish is that everybody makes it here safely, and that I stay healthy, and the concert goes really well.

Dear Santa GIF

4. Let’s talk about your crazy December. You're touring four different cities this month. How do you keep your voice healthy and strong for this Everest of Christmas concerts?
Well, you know, prayer. I'm actually not kidding. It's just one of those things where it's very hectic—there's a lot of travel and a lot of germs. I have to be very selfish with my time and careful. I eat really healthy and get as much rest as possible. It's all about pacing myself, honestly, and knowing that I'm human and things can happen. I just try to do everything I can to stay healthy, which is a lot to ask in December because it's that sick month.

5. What's something that you always have with you when you tour?
What I always have with me is my wireless humidifier. I also always basically have my pharmacy that I travel with, so if I have any symptoms whatsoever I can nip it. I always have that with me, and I usually have my family. My daughter's always with me, unless it's a quick turnaround then I'll leave her with my husband here. I'm very fortunate to have a very supportive family, so I'd say my first aid kit and family.

6. You perform all over the world. What is unique about performing at Carnegie Hall as compared to anywhere else?
There's something really, really magical about Carnegie Hall. It's a place with so much history, and it's also a place I remember as a kid reading about and wishing and hoping one day I'd be able to perform there—never really actually imagining it would happen. Being a little girl in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Carnegie Hall seemed really far away. Nobody in my family is in the arts whatsoever, so I've had to pave my own way and work really hard. I think it's a bucket list moment. It never gets old to know that when I'm standing center stage, that's where Judy Garland stood, and I get to see what she saw. It’s just really magical, especially around the holidays with my buddy and the conductor of New York Pops, Steve Reineke. He’s one of my dearest friends. It's insane and it means a lot.
Are you doing “O Holy Night” with the Pops?
Yes, I’m doing the Sandi Patty arrangement in the show. It has five key changes! It’s so epic. It really makes you feel.

7. Finally, Mary Poppins is now one those musicals that’s being performed all around the country, in schools and community theatres. If you were going to tell the young ladies playing Mary one secret about the role, what would you want them to know?
I would want them to know that I think the best thing about Mary is nobody can finger point exactly what makes her special. Nothing about me is very Mary Poppins at all, but I brought my own sparkle to her. Don’t be afraid to be your own Mary—not to be Julie Andrews being Mary, but be your own Mary. Remember that she never explains anything. She has this joy for life that is palpable and that's why everybody loves her. She has a joy in learning and a sternness, but always through kindness. Each one of us on this Earth has something that makes us special that nobody else possesses, and I think to bring that piece of yourself to the part is what makes it magical—because everybody can make it their own.

Don't miss Ashley Brown and the New York Pops in Under the Mistletoe at Carnegie Hall on December 21 and 22.