Ayla Brown: From American Idol to a Technicolor Dreamcoat

Francis Ma

Don’t forget your past Idols.

American Idol” recently wrapped its seventh season, and people are still basking in the warmth of winner David Cook’s engaging smile.

But with “Idol,” you don’t necessarily have to win in order to win. Just ask Taylor Hicks, a winner who’s lost (his record contract) or Chris Daughtry, a loser who’s won (huge record sales, and, apparently, a real music career).

Our own “Idol” star, Ayla Brown, may be turning losing into winning, too. The Wrentham basketball star, dubbed “the girl next door” in season five, was one of the top 16 finalists. She bowed out after her rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” which the judges said was “good, but not great.”

That was two years ago. Since then Brown has continued her pursuit of a music career while attending Boston College (she’ll be a junior this fall and majoring in communications) and playing for the college’s Lady Eagles basketball team.

“I don’t have any frustrations of having the title ‘former contestant on American Idol,’” says Brown. “That’s who I am. If I was never on ‘American Idol,’ I would never be in this musical.”

That’s right, fans. Your favorite Boston Idol is returning to the stage..

Along with playing gigs whenever she can (singing songs from her 2006 album “Forward”), she has somehow found the time to join the cast of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a Reagle Players production that will play from June 12-21 in Waltham.

“I’ve never seen a production of it,” admits Brown, who plays the narrator. “But I’ve done the research. I bought the CD and the Donny Osmond movie. And every day I love it more and more.”

This is Brown’s first role in a musical, though it’s something she’s been yearning to do since high school (which, if you’re counting, was only a mere three years ago).

Her high school was putting on “Chicago,” thanks to the popularity of the 2002 movie, and Brown desperately wanted to be part of the cast. However she says her basketball schedule didn’t allow her to do it.

“I really regretted that,” says Brown. “If only I made a little more time.”

However, she quickly adds that if she did that, she may not have gotten a basketball scholarship to Boston College.

But it’s her singing talent that has garnered her national attention.

“My mom’s singing…we would pay her not to sing, she was horrible,” laughs Brown, who’s never been formally trained as a singer. “I’m told my father used to sing to my mom’s tummy before I was born.”

Brown’s training came thanks to the behemoth television show. Prior to her stint on the show, Brown was just your average local singer, performing the National Anthem at local sporting events. But after waiting 18 hours in the rain to audition for “Idol,” her life soon changed.

Today she’s busy with school, basketball and she may release some new music soon.

And as for the show? She’s still a fan, but “I think ‘Idol’ has been kind of down,” says Brown. “I think people are tired of the show. The show this year tried a lot of new things, trying to make gains. I think the season I was on was the show’s highest peak.”

For those who don’t remember, that was the season that the gray-haired, dance-spastic Taylor Hicks won the entire thing.

Although she still likes the show, she does have some suggestions for it, and — watch out, Simon — not even the snotty Brit critic is exempt. One of Brown’s suggestions for improving the show — new judges.