Born in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and currently a resident of New York City, singer-actress Ashley Brown originated the title role of "Mary Poppins" on Broadway. She reprised the role in the national tour, receiving the 2010 Garland Award for that performance. Her television special "Ashley Brown in Concert: Call Me Irresponsible" also won a 2011 Telly Award. Brown is currently performing in Kern and Hammerstein's musical "Show Boat" at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and "Speak Low," her CD of American standards, is available now. For more info on Brown, go to her website http://www.ashleybrownonline.com/.
Q. Where have you traveled to that reminded you of your production settings?
A. When I was cast in "Mary Poppins," they sent me to London for two weeks for research. I had never been there before. It was an unbelievable experience. Someone from the Disney offices in London took me around. So I got to see all the touristy things that appeared in our show, as well as what the locals see and do. "Show Boat" -- being based in the South -- hits very close to home. My hometown is very Southern, so unlike in "Mary Poppins," I don't have to worry about my accent! I can just speak like me. It's one of my favorite roles.
Q. When you're on the road, do you try to squeeze in a local musical or opera?
A. I'm usually performing so I don't always have the chance because our shows are at the same time.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Guana Cay, Bahamas. It's a very small island where people only drive golf carts. No cars. Not built up at all. My family likes to rent a house and just cook in and enjoy each other. Also, Kauai and Maui in Hawaii. I just had my honeymoon there. It was so amazing. The scenery is so unreal.
Q. What was your first childhood trip?
A. My parents took us snow skiing in Park City, Utah. I'm the youngest of four and was only six years old at the time. But I loved the snow and my purple, puffy snowsuit. I looked like the kid from the movie "A Christmas Story"!
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Vegas is like Disney World for adults. I'm not a gambler, but there is so much to do there. We have some friends who live in Upstate New York that we like to go visit as well. It's nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city when we can.
Q. What are your favorite cities?
A. Philadelphia, New York, London and Vancouver.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. I'd have to say any beachy destination. Pensacola Beach is seriously the most beautiful beach ever. All of the communities are different, of course. But it's hard to beat our beach.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. Australia and the Maldives.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. My husband Daniel, Eddie Brown and a toothbrush. Anything else I could do without. Eddie's a white French bulldog and I love him! He's the best traveler. He's only 20 pounds so he gets in his bag and goes under the seat in front of me on the plane. Sleeps the whole time and is ready to take on a new city and a new dressing room.
Q. What would be your dream/fantasy trip?
A. I've always wanted to go somewhere where I can ride horses on the beach. I've also always wanted to ride an elephant and a camel. Random, I know, but true!
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. Sleeping, renting overpriced movies in my room and, of course, room service.
Q. What is your worst vacation memory?
A. When I was on the ski trip when I was six. My sister was helping me get dressed for bed and she yanked all of my layers off at once and pulled my neck. I had on about three turtle necks! I couldn't move my neck for like three days. She felt awful because I was so pitiful. We still laugh about it. It's a very vivid memory for me!
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. I wish I did research; I usually only research where my hotel is and where the concert hall is. If I'm on vacation, I always ask the concierge when I arrive what I should do. Then I read up on it all.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)