Just a few years back, Ashley Brown originated the role of Mary Poppins, the sprightly young nanny, on Broadway and on a national tour.
Now she's touring the country playing Mother Abbess, the matronly nun who sings "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" in "The Sound of Music."
"I'm obviously a very, very young Mother Abbess," Brown said in a telephone interview from a tour stop in Knoxville, Tenn. "I'm the youngest ever."
The national tour of "The Sound of Music" started in September, and makes a stop in Tampa for eight shows at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts starting Tuesday.
It's the first time this tour is coming to Florida, but you may have already seen Brown in "The Sound of Music." It's possible that you caught the highly rated "The Sound of Music Live!" on television three years ago. Brown played Ursula, one of the Von Trapp family's servants.
"I had done the show before, I had played Maria before," she said. "But to mix the TV world and the theater world in that one production, that was really interesting," she said.
The current staging, she said, ought to please "Sound of Music" purists, with very full-sounding orchestrations of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein score.
Still, "it's a really updated version," she said.
Brown said she signed on to the tour largely to work with director Jack O'Brien, who's regarded as one of the best directors on Broadway.
He won Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Musical for "Hairspray" in 2003 and for Best Direction of a Play for "Henry IV" in 2004 and "The Coast of Utopia" in 2007. He's been nominated for Tony Awards seven other times.
For this production of the venerable musical, she said, O'Brien has honed in on the narrative.
So while the music will be unchanged, the perils and triumphs of the Von Trapp family seem more immediate.
"It's about telling the story," she said. "And showing why the story is still as relevant today as it ever was."
So far, this new production of "The Sound of Music" has been a huge hit.
"We've been having a lot of fun," Brown said. "We've been selling out wherever we go." It appears as though that might happen in Tampa, too.
Some of the performances at the Straz Center are virtually sold-out already, and available seating is limited for others.
Details: Dec. 22-27, Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 2 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $40-$110 plus service charge and up. Information: 813-229-7827, strazcenter.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.