Brian Stokes Mitchell is the leading man who leads the way in Las Vegas’s ongoing relationship with New York. The Broadway star chiseled a piece of Vegas history with his appearance opening night at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in March 2012.
When he was a kid, Mitchell was in a song-and-dance troupe that performed in town. In his time in L.A., he routinely flew to Vegas — as a licensed pilot — to catch Strip productions. He knows the city and its performers.
“I have great respect, actually, for the entertainers in Las Vegas, and honestly I feel like it’s a sister city, as far as entertainment goes, to New York,” said Mitchell, who won a 2000 Tony Award for his leading role in “Kiss Me Kate.” “There are so many levels of performers there who are incredibly talented. I think it’s a really incredible place for entertainers.”
Mitchell is especially dedicated to the Vegas “gig” entertainers, those who work multiple shows at once but are not considered full-time employees by any of them.
“What’s kind of fascinating, a lot of people don’t really realize most people in the entertainment business are gig workers,” Mitchell says. “I think, for instance, even Broadway, you get one show, you know, that’s the one thing that you’re doing. You may have it for a while, but it’s not a permanent job. It’s something that passes, and I know that is how it is in Las Vegas.”
Mitchell is back in our airspace, at least virtually, for the Mondays Dark Live Stream Telethon set for 5-11 p.m. Monday (with an adult revue capping the show from 11-11:30 p.m.; parental discretion for that segment is advised). Hosted by charity founder Mark Shunock, the event will post at mondaysdark.com, all of the Mondays Dark social media channels and the MGM Resorts and Live at MGM Facebook pages. You can find it on the Golden Knights YouTube page, too.
The show raises funds for sidelined Vegas entertainers through The Actors Fund. Mitchell serves as the organization’s chairman of the board. A donation link will run continually through the live stream.
The list of contributors performing live or via recorded segment, or offering words of support, is stacked and still growing. Among them: Brad Garrett, Shania Twain, Wayne Newton, Olivia Newton-John, Debbie Gibson, Joey Fatone of ’N Sync, Deana Martin, Dot Marie-Jones, Mac King, Terry Fator, Frank Marino, Human Nature, Jon Taffer, Gordie Brown, Hans Klok, Joe Tessitore, Bucky Heard of Righteous Brothers, Zowie Bowie, Franky Perez, Blue Man Group Band, Frankie Scinta, Michael Shapiro of Reckless in Vegas, Piff the Magic Dragon, Travis Cloer, Daniel Emmet, Murray Sawchuck, Lorena Peril, John Di Domenico, Anne Martinez, Lisa Marie Smith, Ruby Lewis, Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi of Bronx Wanderers, Colin Cahill and MaKenzie Fly, Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson and the casts of “Wow” and “Extravaganza.”
Enoch Augustus Scott is hosting the after-hours party, with performers from “Chippendales”; Jennifer Romas’ “Sexxy”; Stabile Productions’ “X Burlesque,” “X Country” and “X Rocks,”; “Thunder From Down Under”; “Fantasy”; “Crazy Girls”; and “Little Miss Nasty.” Piano showman Kenny Davidsen, as always, leads the band, and if we’re lucky we’ll be treated to a virtual version of the Cowbell Jam.
What else? Ah, Clint Holmes, a close friend of Mitchell’s, is naturally in the mix, too.
“I think he’s so incredibly talented and creative,” Mitchell says. “Entertainers do not get better than him.”
Mitchell heads up the 138-year-old, New York-based organization that supports all variety of entertainment professionals — not just the actors.
“It’s always been for the crew members, the musicians, the dancers, for singers, for everybody,” Mitchell says. “One of the things we’re working on right now is changing our name to make it more inclusive for the whole entertainment community.”
That name switch was to be made at The Actors Fund’s gala in April, which was spiked because of COVID-19.
Mitchell himself has been affected, having suffered from the virus through most of March.
“I had a fever of 104. Then I was in bed with a heating pad and I could not get warm; I was chilled to the bone,” Mitchell says. “I had the worst headache I’ve ever had. I had body aches. I got out of bed and I was all twisted because my muscles were contracted, and I lost my sense of taste and smell before that. It really hits you at night. That’s the pattern that seems to be with everybody.”
Now back to full health, Mitchell has sent a ripple across Manhattan by singing “The Impossible Dream” each night at 7 p.m. from his apartment window. The rendition is a tribute to first responders and front-line workers in New York and across the country.
“I just spontaneously started singing ‘The Impossible Dream’ because the words of that song are so perfect with what’s going on,” Mitchell says. “‘To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave not dare go.’ It’s just like, every lyric, one right after the other. It brings an image to mind about something we’ve seen, or someone we know.”
A video of Mitchell singing that song is scheduled to be part of Monday’s telethon. As the leading man says, it’s so perfect.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.