By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
The revision is the list of songs at the end of the story.__________
Brian Stokes Mitchell in Recital
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 above). 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 Misérables 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, they should sound terrific.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.
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