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Ashley Brown

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · May 24th, 2006 · Curtain Call
  CCM grad Ashley Brown is enjoying success in New York.
Joan Marcus

CCM grad Ashley Brown is enjoying success in New York.

When I talked with ASHLEY BROWN last November in New York City, she told me, "I'm working with a great cast and I'm being paid to learn more. I still get butterflies when I'm waiting to go on." She was taking over the role of Belle in Broadway's long-running Beauty and the Beast. The 2004 grad of UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) was born to play the role, it seemed, which she moved into in late September 2005. "It's more than I ever expected," she added. "I thought I'd to come to New York and wait tables and bide my time." Well, Belle was apparently the first step in a career that's still on the ascent. Disney Theatricals recently announced that Brown will create the title role in Mary Poppins, the New York production of the show that's already been a hit in London. She'll play opposite Gavin Lee, who originated the role of Bert in London.

Brown says, "Playing Mary Poppins on Broadway is a dream come true. As a little girl in Florida, I always imagined creating a role in a Broadway show. ...

I can hardly wait to start." Mary Poppins will be produced by the legendary Sir Cameron Mackintosh (Cats, Les Mis, Phantom and Miss Saigon) and staged by esteemed British theater director Richard Eyre. The show begins performances at the New Amsterdam Theatre (current home to The Lion King) in October, and officially opens on Nov. 16. ...

Speaking of CCM grads, CHRIS FENWICK is doing well, too. Before he graduated in 2001, he'd already had considerable experience -- like serving as music director for Hot Summer Nights in 2000 when he conducted all 46 performances during July and August. In an interview back then, Fenwick, a classical piano major, told me he wanted to go to New York and seek work in musical theater. He's kept himself busy there since 2001, in case you were worried. Two years ago he toured with Broadway star Patti LuPone for her one-woman show, Matters of the Heart. (This spring she's a Tony nominee for her performance in the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd). Now he's working with LuPone again, music directing her newest recording, The Lady with the Torch. On May 22, he conducted a concert performance, accompanying her with a 10-piece orchestra to celebrate the launch of the CD on Ghostlight Records. ...

The Cincinnati May Festival is not exactly theater, but if you're a fan of fine acting on stage and screen you might want to know that renowned British actor MICHAEL YORK will perform Friday evening at Music Hall as the narrator of a concert presentation of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio. York has appeared in more than 60 films (from Cabaret to Logan's Run) in addition to numerous stage performances in London and on Broadway. Tickets: 513-381-3300. ...

You don't have to go all the way to New York City to enjoy the Tony Awards on June 11. Stay in town and be part of ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI's fifth annual "live broadcast party" that Sunday evening. It's in the East Club Room at Paul Brown Stadium. Info: 513-421-3555.

The one-act that put Clifford Odets on the map in 1935, WAITING FOR LEFTY, gets one more performance by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. This brief piece about a taxi-drivers' strike is not a complicated script, and CSC keeps it simple. A half-dozen men sit on the stage at a union hall, making speeches; these are interspersed with vignettes of domestic strife, the social fallout from America's failed economy during the Depression. Several actors in the audience heckle or shout encouragement, giving the show a visceral punch. Waiting for Lefty is a perfect choice for CSC, which resembles the Group Theatre in the 1930s, where Odets made his name as a writer and an actor. A downright lively piece of theater history. Grade: B



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