Ayla Brown and Ginna Claire Mason, two dynamic young performers blessed with big voices and big dreams, take their places on Boston stages as the summer theater season revs up.
They share a Nashville connection and a love of performing, too.
Brown stars as The Narrator in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," June 8-18 at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Robinson St., Waltham.
And Mason, spreading good cheer and glitter, rides in on a bubble as Glinda, the good witch, in "Wicked," on stage through July 23 at the Boston Opera House.
Brown, a rising country star and "American Idol" finalist, played Lowell Memorial Auditorium in April 2010, when she opened for a Tony Orlando concert. She was on the verge of graduating from Boston College and embarking on her professional career. And since then, she's been busy.
"I packed up my car and moved to Nashville in February 2011," says Brown. "And since moving there, I've been writing, recording and releasing songs independently. I've learned a lot about the music industry and feel blessed that I am still singing for a living."
Brown has sung at the Grand Ole Opry, with the Boston Pops and for troops around the world. And she performed the national anthem at the Republican National Convention and for the GOP debate. (Her dad is former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts).
But she's happy to be back performing for a hometown crowd in "Joseph."
"This is the second time I've played the Narrator with Reagle Music Theatre," she says. "I did it nine years ago and was so happy to be asked back."
The show is the musical retelling of the Old Testament story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Peppered with memorable tunes and fun-filled choreography, it's a family-friendly venture for audiences, said Brown.
"People love this show, since it takes them through multiple emotions," she said. "It's a powerful story about love and forgiveness, and teaches many good lessons."
She's having fun stretching her musical-theater chops as the Narrator.
"Rehearsals are going great -- we have an amazingly dedicated cast and crew whose mission is to make this musical the best anyone has ever seen. People will be impressed and leave the theater dancing on their feet. I am so proud of my fellow actors and their work ethic," said Brown.
Tickets to "Joseph" start at $35 and are available at 781-891-5600 or www.reaglemusictheatre.org.
Meanwhile, sweetness and cheer trickle over the phone as Ginna Claire Mason, born and raised in Nashville, answers the phone from Buffalo, N.Y.
The appealing young star who plays Glinda in "Wicked" sounds a bit like Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role on Broadway. And her caller hears soft chatter in the background as Mason apologizes for the mix-up in time for our interview.
"I'm hosting a brunch for the girls in the cast. I'm so sorry, but could you call back at 4?" she asks kindly.
Two hours later, the brunch dishes are cleared and Mason can talk candidly about Glinda, "Wicked" and living her dreams.
"I've always had a desire to perform," she said. "My older brothers did community theater, and we all grew up on movie musicals like 'Singin' in the Rain' and 'Sound of Music.'"
On her first trip to New York in fourth grade, her parents took her to see "Les Miserables."
"I turned to my mother at intermission and said 'This is what people do for a living, then count me in,'" she recalled.
On her second trip to New York, in seventh grade, she saw "Wicked" with her father and told him, "I'm going to play Glinda someday. She's such a dynamic character, so bubbly and perky, and her friendship shines through," she recalled.
Now, 13 years later, she's living that dream and is thankful to experience it.
She's also delighted to come back to Boston, where she performed the national anthem at a Red Sox game with her church choir and also did a tour of "Flashdance" three years ago at the Colonial Theatre.
"I went to a ballet performance at the Opera House and told my friend I'd love to play this theater sometime. And here I am -- it's a dream come true," she said.
Tickets to "Wicked" start at $49 and are available at 800-982-2787 or www.BroadwayIn Boston.com.
On the marquee
SUMMER FUN: They're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz at the YMCA Youth Theater summer program. Now in its 18th year, campers will perform "The Wizard of Oz." Beginning July 5, the program runs Monday-Thursday at the Lowell YMCA, 35 YMCA Drive, and is open to kids ages 5-16. Performances are Aug. 11-12 at the Sullivan School, Draper Street, Lowell. The program runs for six weeks and costs $62 a week. Financial aid is available. An information session takes place Saturday, June 10, 10-11 a.m., at the YMCA. Camp director Carolyn Carbonneau will be there or you can contact her at LowellYMCAtheater@gmail.com. ... Chelmsford Center for the Arts is offering introductory voice lessons for kids ages 8-18 on Mondays, June 26-July 31. Instructor Erika Kiyoko Taylor, a Boston Conservatory grad with experience teaching all ages, will work with beginners who want to try something new and students who want to prepare for musical auditions in the fall. Children of all abilities are welcome. Six half-hour weekly lessons are $150, and hour lessons are available on request. For info, call 978-250-3780 or visit www.chelmsfordarts.org.
IT'S A HIT: "Ripcord," the new comedy about feisty senior citizens by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Jessica Stone, is a box-office hit at the Huntington Theatre Company, where it's been extended through July 2. A new block of tickets for eight performances June 27-July 2 are now on sale. The show plays the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont St., Boston. Visit www.huntingtontheatre.org for tickets and details.
SAVE THE DATE: Commonwealth Shakespeare Company presents "Romeo & Juliet," the immortal tragedy of young, star-crossed lovers, as its 22nd production of Free Shakespeare on the Common, near the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common. Performance dates are July 9-Aug. 6. Performances are Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 7 p.m., with one matinee Saturday, Aug. 5, at 3 p.m. Visit www.commshakes.org for details and info about reserving chairs.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.