Broadway Actor Brings Patriotism To Sun Valley Pavilion

Jul 5, 2018

Brian Stokes Mitchell

On Saturday, July 7, two stage and TV actors, Sutton Foster and Brian Stokes Mitchell, sing patriotic songs at the Sun Valley Pavilion, with the American Festival Orchestra.

Brian Stokes Mitchell has been a leading man in Broadway musicals for decades. In 2000, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in “Kiss Me, Kate.”

He’s known for his rich baritone, a trait he attributes to genetics.

"My father had a beautiful speaking voice," he says. "A beautiful, rich, resonant voice. So I was lucky to get that. And then I just went into the training part, on my own. I was always studying music from a very very early age."

As a theater fan, he likes new and original musicals. But as an actor, he’s more likely to be cast in postwar revivals.

"My voice tends to fit in well with musicals from the 1950s, 60s, 70s," Mitchell explains, "before they started to getting a little more pop-rock style. But what people want to hear is that big, fat baritone, and people don’t write that so much anymore."

One of his surprises for Saturday’s concert was written by Stephen Sondheim, intended for his Broadway musical about presidents being attacked, called “Assassins.”

"But it was cut!" Mitchell exclaims. "And nobody knows this song. And it’s a beautiful patriotic song called 'Flag Song.' When I choose a repertoire, I very purposefully choose songs that hopefully will give an audience that experience: more open, more enlightened, more happy, more capable, more empathetic."

Mitchell will also pepper the production with hits like “Impossible Dream” and “Stars” from Les Mis

For the past 15 years, he’s been chairman of the board of a charity called The Actors Fund.

"It was created in a time about 135 years ago when “actor” was kind of a pejorative word used for anybody working in the performing arts," Mitchell says. "And back then, people couldn’t even be buried in consecrated ground who worked in show business. So a number of people got together - Buffalo Bill Cody was one of them - to help people in the performing arts in times of need, or crisis or transition."

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