(Stephen Holden’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/15; via Pam Green.)
In “Plays With Music,” the title of Brian Stokes Mitchell’s theatrically far-reaching show at Café Carlyle in Manhattan, the operative word is “plays.” When not inhabiting a role onstage, this most traditionally heroic of Broadway leading men reimagines songs as one-act plays performed with a childlike enthusiasm.
If a number like “Getting Married Today,” from “Company,” involves multiple characters, he’ll shift from one to another. The heart of the song, of course, is the bride-to-be’s hysterical (and hysterically funny) last-minute case of wedding jitters, sung at breakneck speed and without a hitch. But a routinely overlooked participant in that song is the dour church lady who oversees the ceremony and slips in barbed remarks disparaging marriage. At Tuesday’s opening-night show, Mr. Mitchell made her an important character by scrunching his features into a comic mask of ill will and spewing out sentiments like, “Bless this day, tragedy of life, husband yoked to wife.”
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