FRI, JUL 29, 2022
Mr. Mitchell received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for his star turn in Kiss Me, Kate. He also gave Tony-nominated performances in Man of La Mancha, August Wilson’s King Hedley II, and Ragtime. Other notable Broadway shows include Kiss of the Spider Woman, Jelly’s Last Jam, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and most recently Shuffle Along. Off Broadway includes Do Re Mi, Carnival, Kismet and The Bandwagon at City Center Encores and Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park. Regional includes Sweeney Todd at the Sondheim Celebration at The Kennedy Center with Christine Baranski and The Light in the Piazza at the Los Angeles Opera with Renee Fleming. Stokes was four days from opening LOVE/LIFE at City Center Encores when all of Broadway, and most of the country shut down due to the pandemic. However, that didn’t stop him completely. Even while recovering from Covid in March of 2020, he received unexpected additional acclaim and attention for singing "The Impossible Dream" from his apartment window every night for a number of weeks during the pandemic in honor of the essential workers.
Stokes (as he prefers to be called) was born in Seattle, Washington on Halloween. His father, George Mitchell, was a civilian electronics engineer working for the Navy and later the chief Radio officer with both Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Exxon. His father was also one of the original “Tuskegee Airman” having taught radio and blinker code at Moton Field, Alabama. His mother, Lillian Mitchell was an educator. Stokes spent his childhood in Seattle, San Diego, Guam and the Philippines. He moved back to the United States at the age of 14 and began studying acting, singing and dancing at San Diego Jr. Theatre. Within two years he was performing on various San Diego stages including the Old Globe Theatre and San Diego’s Starlight Opera Company. A transfer to Los Angeles with the 12th Night Repertory Company while performing multi-cultural theatre for students gave him the opportunity to start a long career in television and film.
His extensive screen credits began with a guest starring role on Roots: The Next Generations which led to a 7-year stint on Trapper John, MD. His 40-year long TV/Film run continued with memorable appearances on everything from PBS’ Great Performances to Frasier, The Prince of Egypt (singing “Through Heaven’s Eyes”), Glee, Jumping the Broom, Madam Secretary, The Blacklist, Bull, Elementary and Prodigal Son. He has had recurring roles on numerous series of late including Mr. Robot, The Path and this season on Evil. As a voice-over artist he has portrayed dozens of characters on hundreds of animated TV episodes. NPR aired his narration of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the U.S. Marine Band. His second performance at the White House, “A celebration of American Creativity”, was aired on PBS. This season, Stokes begins a new segment of his career hosting a live-streamed talk show called Crossovers. The show will feature icons who’ve made the jump from stage to film, television or music. The six-part series will livestream from New York City and will also be available on video on demand at StellarTickets.com.
An extremely versatile singer, Stokes has performed at venues all over the country spanning jazz, opera, pops, country, and musical theater worlds. He has performed with John Williams, Gustavo Dudamel, Marvin Hamlisch, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Big Band, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Muppets. Stokes has made multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall beginning with his debut with the San Francisco Symphony through his televised performance in South Pacific opposite Reba McEntire to his sold-out solo concert, which he continues to perform throughout the U.S. Venues he has appeared at include Disney Hall, Tanglewood, Ravinia, The Hollywood Bowl, Radio City Music Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. He has twice been invited to perform at the White House and has sung for Presidents Clinton and Obama.
Stokes has delved deeply into various music disciplines. In addition to singing he began piano studies at the age of 6. His musical curiosity lead him to an interest in orchestration, arranging and film scoring which he first started studying on his own in his late teens. He later studied film scoring, orchestration, and conducting through UCLA and scored and conducted a number of “Trapper John, MD” episodes, a series on which he was also a regular cast member. His musical talent has extended to the present day as producer, arranger and orchestrator on his three solo albums including his newest release, Plays with music.
Plays with Music is an album of classic Broadway tunes that have been musically reimagined but still retain the spirit of the originals. It features the Tony-winning singer accompanied by a full orchestra. “I see each of my solo albums as a continuation of the same art work. My first eponymous album was my introduction, full of personal references to my musical influences and experiences, The second, Simply Broadway, celebrates my Broadway life - but pared down to piano and vocal. Plays with Music continues with the Broadway theme, but it’s really an album about joyful creativity.” The song selection includes works from Camelot, The Bandwagon, Mack and Mable, Company, and includes 2 premiers including Flag Song by Stephen Sondheim. Stokes has appeared on more than 20 albums, including a recording of “What The World Needs Now” with other members of the Broadway community to help those affected by the tragedy at The Pulse club in Orlando, Florida.
Stokes has received a number of other awards for both his charitable and artistic work including the New Dramatist’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the Actors Fund Julie Harris Award, Canada’s Dora Mavor Moore Award (The Canadian “Tony”), the Americans for the Arts Outstanding Contribution to the Arts Award, The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, Chicago’s Sarah Siddons Award, and the Distinguished Performance Award from the Drama League. In November of 2016 he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
Stokes charitable work is extensive. Since his 20s has enjoyed working with multiple organizations beginning with tours for the USO and also The March of Dimes. He received his most recent Tony Award in 2016 for his work as Chairman of the Board of The Actor’s Fund, a position he has continuously held since 2004. He is also on the Board and Artist Committee of Americans for the Arts, and is a founding member of Black Theatre United. He is a tireless advocate for both artists and the importance of the Arts in a healthy society. This year the city of New York honored his contributions to charity and the arts by awarding him the Key to the City.
As a writer Stokes has contributed to the book Hirschfeld’s Harlem, wrote the preface to At This Theatre, and co-authored the children’s book Lights on Broadway.
For fun he has been known to fly planes and jump out of them (usually not at the same time), and he can ride a bicycle on a high wire. He resides in New York City with his wife and son.