BWW Interviews: Brian Stokes Mitchell Celebrates Holidays with New York Philharmonic
This weekend, Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell will make his debut with the New York Philharmonic, performing a selection of traditional and contemporary holiday songs--all with a decidedly Broadway vibe.
Along with conductor Ted Sperling, Stokes chose his song selections to create a certain vibe. "The order of songs decide what the concert's going to be about," he said. "I gave a lot of thought to what I want the audience to experience." As early as nine months ago, Stokes had an idea of what he wanted this concert to be. "Because it's a Holiday concert, I want everyone leaving the theater feeling 10 times better than when they walked in. In the course of that, they'll also get to laugh, maybe cry a bit."
For himself, Stokes feels that the holidays are a "spiritual" time of year. "It's that time when we reflect and go inside a bit and [think about] how we see the world and how we see the spiritual aspects of our lives," he said. To that end, he wanted his concert to have a certain structure: The first half is fun and playful, but the second evokes a child's sense of the holiday season, and is meant to be somewhat more reflective. " I have a 10-year-old," the singer notes, "and having a kid, you see Christmas and the holidays through new eyes--or old eyes that you used to see from. It's about revisiting that, as well."
As a bona fide Broadway star (and since the concert is, after all, called A Broadway Christmas), Stokes felt obligated to begin with Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas" from Mame. He also performs Stephen Schwartz's Hanukkah song "We Are Light" and the ever-popular "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. "I like that one because it's such a part of our culture and psyche," Stokes said. "It's something kids love and adults love, and it always gets a big laugh."