BWW Review: Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty in Concert at Des Moines Symphony: A Night I Will Always Remember
Over the last 5 years, Des Moines Symphony and Des Moines Performing Arts have come together to present a concert with one of Broadway's brightest stars. It has become a yearly tradition for me as well. Some of the past concerts have included Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster, Kristin Chenoweth, and Leslie Odem Jr. This year for their collaboration, they gave the audience an extra treat with two artists, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty. They both gave amazing performances that I won't soon forget.
Part of the fun going into these concerts is seeing what the Des Moines Symphony is going to open with. Usually, it is an overture of one of Broadway's greatest shows. This year was no different as the symphony opened with the "Overture" from "Gypsy." This was such a treat as it was able to highlight a few of the different sections of the symphony, and let the audience know that they were going to be entertained for the evening. My favorite part had to be the "Everything's Coming Up Roses" section of the "Overture." It caught me a little off guard when the symphony suddenly got quiet and had a crescendo every time it came to the point Mama Rose would have sung "Everything's Coming Up Roses."
It would be easy to talk about every song in the concert last night, but with 18 songs, this review would never end, so I'm going to focus on what were my highlights for the evening. The first highlight for me was Brian Stokes Mitchell. While he has a beautiful singing voice, what was the highlight for me was the gems of information he shared going into each song. My favorite had to be the gem he shared before "The Impossible Dream". This song is very special to me, as it was the encore for my senior recital in college. As I was learning the song, the recording I listened to and was influenced most by was the cast recording with Brian Stokes Mitchell. It became a song that felt like my own song. Brian Stokes Mitchell shared that the composer of the song Mitch Leigh shared that as he went around the world, people had shared that they felt 'The Impossible Dream" was their song. He shared about a time where the music rang especially true to him when he sang it to celebrate the anniversary of The March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech. As he sang, you could hear how that performance influenced the song, as it became one of my favorite performances of the song I've heard.
Another fun part of the evening was the duets shared between Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty. Many of these duets were from some of the biggest roles in Brian Stokes Mitchells career. For their "Encore" they performed my favorite duet of the night "On the Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime. Before the song, both shared the thoughts they had the first time they held their children, which was very fitting as that is what is happening in Ragtime when this song is sung. While all the duets sang were beautiful, "On the Wheels of a Dream" was my favorite of the night, and the song I felt truly highlighted what both of their voices were capable of together. It gave such a hopeful ending to a beautiful night of music.
As a big fan of the tv show "SMASH," my favorite part of this amazing evening came at the top of the show with Broadway Bombshell Megan Hilty. If you aren't familiar with the show, Megan Hilty played Ivy Lynn, the Broadway star who was vying for the role of Marylin Monroe in the musical "Bombshell." As many of my friends could tell you, I was team Ivy for the entirety of the show. I may never get to see "Bombshell" on stage by Megan gave me everything a fan of the show could want. All 4 of her big numbers from the show. During the second half of the show, she showcased her time she has spent on Broadway which included one of the best out of show performances of "Popular" from Wicked I have ever heard live, and completely stole the show with her rendition of "Diamond's are a Girls Best Friend."
The Broadway Artist in Concert collaboration between Des Moines Performing Arts and the Des Moines Symphony has become one of biggest highlights of the season. Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty in Concert was no exception. While this one-night event may be over, tickets are already on sale for next years collaboration. The Legendary Bernadette Peters, who played Megan Hilty's mother on "SMASH," will take perform in concert with the Des Moines Symphony on April 4, 2020, at 7:30 PM. Tickets are on sale now to Willis Broadway Series and Des Moines Symphony Pop Series subscribers. Can wait that long for Broadway in Concert here in Des Moines? Renée Elise Goldsberry will be in Concert with the Des Moines Symphony on July 14 2019 at 7:30 opening their inaugural season of the Water Works Pops Series. General Admission to the concert is free. If you want reserved seating for the concert you may purchase VIP club tickets or a Patron Package for the concert. For more information about the Des Moines Symphony, please visit https://dmsymphony.org/