Brian Stokes Mitchell or as he likes to be called “Stokes” was just in town for two concerts at the lovely and acoustically fine The Broad Stage. His concert was varied, showing his tremendous range, and classy. His ease on stage is almost unsurpassed (I see a lot of concerts).
His selections were from some of his award-winning musicals, Ragtime, Kiss Me Kate, Les Miserables, and from his concert appearances, Porgy and Bess. From Kiss Me Kate, for which he earned the coveted Tony Award, and which dubbed him “the last leading man on Broadwa”, he sang “Where is the Life That Late I lead” in a very amusing version using a prompt book so he could ”remember the words”. From South Pacific he moved us with “Some Enchanted Evening” and gave us a tremendously affective “This Nearly Was Mine”.
Some of my favorite parts were his tribute to George Gershwin, “Love For Sale” and “How Long Has This Been Going On” as well as a medley of “Fascinatin Rhythm” and “I got Rhythm”. Then there were the wonderful selections fromPorgy And Bess, “A Woman is a Sometimes Thing” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So”. He also paid tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein, besides selections from South Pacific, by singing “Hello You Lovers” from The King and I. This last song was part of a brief section in support of same-sex marriage. He had recently been on Glee as part of a gay couple. He also sang the lovely “It’s Not Easy Bein Green”.
He concluded his program on an up note, singing “America” and “Wheels of A Dream” from Ragtime. His encores reflected this positive message with his singing off “Impossible Dream”. What is truly remarkable about Stokes is his ability to adapt his voice to the requirements of the song: soft, loud, intimate, and belting (once without a mic!!). He also spoke of a book he wrote for children Lights On Broadway: A Theatrical Tour from A to Z with CD to which he contributed several things including a song. Proceeds for the sale were pledged to The Actor’s Fund for which he serves as the Chairman of The Board. Brian Stokes Mitchell performed at the The Broad Stage March 9 and 11.