"I'm looking forward to performing with my own trio," he said. "They're great jazz artists, so this will give me the opportunity to mix accessible jazz numbers with Broadway songs to show people that the two genres work well together."
A frequent visitor to the city, he was in town earlier this spring to present a selection of Duke Ellington songs at Strathmore, backed by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
|Brian Stokes Mitchell|
|Where: Merchant Hall, Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas|
|When: 8 p.m. Saturday; preperformance discussion 7 p.m. in Buchanan Partners Art Gallery|
|Info: $44-$60; 888-945-2468; hyltoncenter.org|
"I love performing in Washington," he said. "It's becoming my home away from home."
One of the most riveting artists to grace the stage, his credits include "Ragtime," "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Man of La Mancha," all earning Tony Award nominations for Best Actor in a Musical. He took home the winning statuette for "Kiss Me, Kate." Locally, he starred in the title role of "Sweeney Todd" for the Kennedy Center revival of the show honoring Stephen Sondheim's 70th birthday. His Carnegie Hall performance as Emile in a concert version of "South Pacific" aired on PBS.
But his expertise is not limited to musicals. He received a Tony nomination for Best Actor in August Wilson's drama "King Hedley II" and has appeared on "Frasier," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Ugly Betty" and, most recently, "Glee."
"That was a last minute assignment that came from out of the blue," Mitchell said. "I'd often thought that I'd love to sing on the show, so I was amazed to get a call. I flew out the very next day and went right into rehearsal without having seen the script. I had a great time and was especially pleased to work again with Lea Michele who was the little girl in 'Ragtime.' We keep meeting on different occasions, and I'm very happy to watch her career develop so well."
With a studio in his home, Mitchell is able to arrange his songs and even create voice-overs for the dozens of many animated characters he brings to life on television and in film, among them Scooby-Doo, California Raisins, Paddington Bear, the Last Dinosaur, Don Coyote and Sancho Panda. The equipment enabled him to edit his last solo album. The only requirement, he finds, is the need to keep an instruction manual nearby.
Mitchell's latest film, "Jumping the Broom" with Angela Bassett, is a "dramady," so called for its combination of drama and comedy.
"I anticipate going back to Broadway some day but am not seriously looking for a part," he said. "Right now I have a great concert career without having to do eight shows a week, which can be very tiring. Along with recordings and television, the concerts give me great pleasure."