Scandals. Arrests. Drug abuse. These words are appearing more frequently in the music and performance industries, leaving aspiring performers with few people to look up to. However, one Broadway star continues to be something most performers are not: a role model, his fans say.
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony Award winner and esteemed performer, will perform at the BYU Homecoming Spectacular Oct. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. Mitchell will bring his solo act to the Marriott Center stage and will also perform with student groups. According to a news release, Mitchell was given the title ” the last leading man” by the New York Times. In an industry where a male lead role is difficult to come by, Mitchell continues to command main roles on Broadway.
Janielle Christensen, Homecoming Spectacular artistic director, helped bring Mitchell, who also performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2009, to BYU last year.
“When he came last year, he not only performed a concert, but he also talked to our students,” Christensen said. “It was an opportunity for us to watch him with the students as well. He talked about how to have a well-rounded life and how to make time for a family.”
Senior Brock Kannan, a 24-year-old music, dance and theatre major from Virginia, was one of the students who had the opportunity to attend the master class.
“The thing I loved about Brian was that everything he did was very honest,” Kannan said. “He told us that you must find truth within yourself and that everything leads back to truth. He also said that we are all a vessel for something greater, and that was very interesting to me.”
Kannan, who said he loves to perform and is currently focusing on becoming a casting director, said he believes Mitchell is truly a great person.
“He has great energy,” Kannan said. “He is lovely to watch because he is a such a great person. Everything he does on stage is truly emulated in his personality. It was inspirational to watch someone else who’s done it — to listen to a master. It’s been said that the ‘big man’ in musicals is dying away, but he’s still doing it.”
Along with great anticipation from aspiring performers and BYU performance groups, Christensen said she is also looking forward to seeing Mitchell perform at the Homecoming Spectacular.
“We have always known that he is a fabulous performer,” Christensen said. “He is really well loved and respected performer. He brings so much warmth to his performances. We admire him not only as a first class performer but also as a role-model for young performers.
The Homecoming Spectacular will also honor the work and life of Gerrit de Jong and his contribution to the world of the arts.
“Gerrit de Jong was such an elegant, sophisticated man with such a vision of the arts,” Christensen said. “Those are all the qualities that Mitchell has so we thought it was very appropriate to have him come this year. I think he will be a very popular person.”