By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
The revision is the list of songs at the end of the story.
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 11 at 4 p.m.
The Broad Stage (Santa Monica
There are certain people who when they show up on a schedule
get a big yellow highlighter and/or red-line underline (or their electronic
equivalent) on my calendar. They belong in the “don’t miss this show” category.
Brian Stokes Mitchell is one of those, for me, and he’s coming to The Broad
Stage in Santa Monica Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
Mitchell has been one of the leading stars of musical
theater for decades (he’s now age 54); he has been nominated for four Tony
Awards and won in 2000 for his performance in Kiss Me Kate. However, my experience with Mitchell can trace
directly to a benefit performance of South
Pacific in concert at Carnegie Hall that aired in 2006 (the actual
performance took place on June 9, 2005). I stumbled onto it while channel
surfing but, as South Pacific is one
of favorite musicals (perhaps THE favorite), I was hooked.
Mitchell was playing Emile de Becque and Reba McEntire was
Nellie Forbush (pictured right). Not only did they sing wonderfully, they
connected amazingly as a couple. However, what I vividly remember was Mitchell
singing This Nearly Was Mine. I was
shaken when he finished; even today, if I play the DVD, that performance brings
tears to my eyes. Whatever else he sings this weekend, I fervently hope that’s
part of the show. If you’ve never seen the DVD, I highly recommend it; it
remains one of my lifetime musical high points.
Mitchell and McEntire reprised their performances in a
semi-staged production at Hollywood Bowl in 2007. Mitchell returned the
following year to the Bowl to play Javert in Les Misrables and in 2009 portrayed Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls.
For Mitchell, this is a homecoming of sorts. Although he was
born Seattle, he lived in California for nearly 20 years (his father was a
civilian engineer for the U.S. Navy). While a teenager in San Diego, he began
acting in school musicals and when he moved to Los Angeles, his career took off.
“When I moved to Los Angeles,” he said in an interview for a Dallas
performance, “I bought a four-track studio, and it expanded to an eight-tack
studio, and then a 16-track studio and then a 16-track digital studio and now I
have a Pro Tools studio, which is kind of the industry standard, so it has made
me very conscious of sound.”
For his weekend concerts, Mitchell will be accompanied by a
quartet: piano, drums, bass and a woodwind player. Although the program
won’t be set until show time, among the songs he’s scheduled to sing are Some Enchanted Evening, Stars, The Waters of
March, Wheels of a Dream and The
Impossible Dream. Within the intimate
acoustics of The Broad Stage, he should sound terrific.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.