In his nightclub debut at Feinstein’s at the Regency, Tony-winning baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell is clearly having a good time. With an early parcel of Valentine sentiments, Mitchell is crooning love songs, mostly warming standards plucked from musical theater milestones. His voice is a richly tailored, warm and resonant instrument, capable of caressing the kind of melody that has staying power. Mitchell’s hour is enhanced by his ruddy good looks and assured stage presence.
From the Gershwins to Lerner & Loewe and Cy Coleman, Mitchell, who is probably as close as one gets to being a matinee idol these days, reminds his audience what an important part romance played in Broadway’s theatrical legacy
The deepest depths of the heart are perhaps best defined in a 1940 medley that includes Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You,” the Gershwins’ “Embraceable You” and Duke Ellington’s “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” Mitchell brings a mellowing presence to the past, and when he strings the old tunes together there’s an irresistibly comforting glow left behind.
In a quick turn as a jazz singer, Mitchell takes Cole Porter for a joyride, even flirting with a scat chorus of “It’s All Right With Me” and marketing “Love for Sale” — rarely sung by a gent — at a biting, uptempo pace, set against the airy accompaniment of Lou Marini’s dancing flute solo.
There’s nary a cabaret artist in town who doesn’t address the Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Leonard Bernstein farewell “Some Other Time.” Its sweet simplicity defines the heartbreak of a wartime parting sentiment. Mitchell’s reading is blessed with the right touch of reverence and heartbreak.
Encore is “The Impossible Dream,” reprising Mitchell’s acclaimed Broadway turn as Don Quixote. Mitchell’s perf emphasizes the legit milestone’s intense emotional appeal.