Monday, August 27, 2007

Amazing Broadway Performer: Brian Stokes Mitchell

I don’t know how a theatre can contain Brian Stokes Mitchell. All these years after getting to see him in Kiss Me, Kate, I still remember how his characterization filled the (then) Martin Beck Theatre. Seeing him perform as Fred Graham was electrifying, particularly to someone like myself who, at the time, was not used to witnessing a performance of that magnitude. Hearing him belt out those magnificent Cole Porter tunes, making me both laugh out loud and feel strongly for his relationship with Lilli, was an unforgettable experience.

It was only when looking at his Playbill credits that I realized I had encountered Mitchell before, singing for Danny Glover the outstanding Stephen Schwartz song “Through Heaven’s Eyes” in The Prince of Egypt. His voice has the grandeur that the character requires but pulls out the warmth and intimacy the song needs. The CD is filled with great Stephen Schwartz music, but Mitchell’s “Through Heaven’s Eyes” is definitely a highlight.

The only other performance of Brian Stokes Mitchel’s that I’ve been fortunate enough to see was in Ragtime through the Lincoln Center theatre archives. What a powerful performance. The OBCR is a fantastic keepsake of that awesome performance, but getting to see the whole performance—wow. It was one thing to hear Coalhouse acquiesce to Booker T. Washington, but to see the character agonizing over the decision, to feel the tension in the air . . . It’s no wonder that his performance in Ragtime propelled Mitchell into Broadway super-stardom.


the Broadway Mouth
August 28, 2007

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