On Stage: The Choral Arts Society of Washington: Broadway’s Show-Stoppers with Brian Stokes Mitchell

She Said:

RJ and I adore music. We were thrilled when we found out that we would be attending an event saluting the music of Broadway that was to be performed by the Choral Arts Society of Washington and feature Brian Stokes Mitchell. The Washington Performing Arts Society did an amazing job of hosting an exhilarating musical feast at Kennedy’s Center’s Concert Hall.  It’s nearly 24 hours later and I’m still living in the world of the performance in my head.

I love the Kennedy Center; it’s one of the best performance venues in the world. I had never been inside the Concert Hall and now I’m in love with it. Aside from its decorative beauty, I was amazed by the acoustics. My favorite moment from the concert will always be when Brian Stokes Mitchell “unplugged” and sang “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific. The song itself is beautiful, but yesterday’s performance was a beautiful testament to the power of the human voice.

Being an actor and singer myself, of course I adore Broadway music, but I was unprepared for the wonderful menu that were served at the Broadway

Show-Stoppers concert. Gershwin, Sondheim and a ton of Rodgers and Hammerstein were all on the bill and so many of my favorites from “Send in the Clowns” to “Some Enchanted Evening” and “S’wonderful” and too many more to list. I enjoyed the music so much that I could list every song and have several compliments to list for each. The musical selection was wonderful and earned a very small (so as not to disturb others) gasp of delight when the program opened with “A Grand Night for Singing”.

The Choral Arts Society Chorus of Washington did an amazing job. From the first moments of the program until the lovely finale, they were astounding. I went to small liberal arts college so I attended my fair share of choir programs and expected this to be somewhat similar. I was pleased to discover that what I witnessed was a totally different level of musicianship and performance. Even though I loved music, I used to read when RJ or my friends would ask me to attend choir events. In college, I didn’t feel connected to the performance at all. But, yesterday I learned that just as a large ensemble can enhance the beauty of a musical, a large and talented choir could further enhance my favorite kind of music. I especially enjoyed the Sondheim medley, which had me in tears (“Send in the Clowns”) and also made me laugh (“The Little Things You Do Together”). Kudos to conductor Scott Tucker and everyone in The Choral Arts Society Chorus for giving such a beautiful example of choral arts!

Brian Stokes Mitchell is one of my favorite actors and singers. He’s so amazingly talented. I’ve been a huge fan of his work ever since I was in high school. His voice is so strong and rich, I could listen to him sing anything, even “Call Me Maybe”. He’s a wonderful performer and it’s so easy to be transported by one his performances.   I had tears in my eyes during “The Wheels of a Dream” because as beautiful as it is, hearing it in person added another dimension of hope for the future. Mother’s Day is hard for someone struggling with infertility. But, hearing this beautiful song really encouraged me about hope for a baby for the future- that was a great Mother’s Day gift for someone who is waiting to be a mommy. Every song he performed was entertaining whether it was sweet, poignant, funny or hopeful. I’ve never liked the song “The Impossible Dream”. I just don’t connect with it, and I even used to tease RJ about it. But, after hearing Brian Stokes Mitchell sing it- I’m a fan! I was ready to pick up my sword and shield and march behind him into the fray after hearing his breathtaking and inspiring rendition. How had I never loved this beautiful song with its call to fight for good and give all that you have in this life? Well, I love it now! I’m an even bigger fan of Brian Stokes Mitchell because I’m in even more awe of his voice and his performing abilities. Plus, I met him afterward and got a picture and autograph and he was a total sweetheart!

The concert was a wonderful treat! I look forward to seeing both Brian Stokes Mitchell and The Choral Arts Society of Washington perform again!

Now, I’m going to go listen to “The Impossible Dream”.

Kari’s Rating- 10

Kari and Brian Stokes Mitchell
Kari and Brian Stokes Mitchell

He Said:

 

Last night Kari and I had the opportunity to experience a concert featuring the legendary Brian Stokes Mitchell.  It was everything I thought it would be and more.

 

He hit all the high points you would expect.  He sounded wonderful as he sang though some of the most well known songs from his career.  “Some Enchanted Evening” and “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific were perfect.  I thought his whole set was great, but the standouts to me were “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and “This Nearly was Mine.”  I have always sung along to “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” even though it is typically thought of as a girl’s song.  It was great to hear it from such a phenomenal talent.  For “This Nearly Was Mine,” he put his microphone down and sang without any amplification.  It still sounded beautiful and powerful. 

 

The Choral Arts Society Chorus is nothing to sneeze at either.  Though it’s easy to write this show off as a Brian Stokes Mitchell concert, they really added a lot.  They sang a short set of wonderful Broadway melodies before Stokes Mitchell, and then joined him for a few songs at the end that really showcased both soloist, and choir.  They started off with “It’s a Grand Night For Singing” which was cute and a good show opener.  I loved their Sondheim Medley, which included “Send in the Clowns” and “The Little Things You do Together” and several others.

 

As I mentioned above, the show closed with both Stokes Mitchell and the choir.  Their closing set included very emotional versions of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “The Wheels of a Dream”, and “The Impossible Dream”.  The version that they sang together of “The Impossible Dream” was the best I have ever heard.

 

It was a great night, and I can’t wait for the next time to see either Brian Stokes Mitchell return to his self professed “second home” or the next time I get to see that choir!

RJ Rating-10

Two complimentary media tickets were provided by the Washington Performing Arts Society for this post.

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