Deck the Carnegie Hall: NY Pops Celebrates Holidays With Brian Stokes Mitchell Dec. 10-11

News   Deck the Carnegie Hall: NY Pops Celebrates Holidays With Brian Stokes Mitchell Dec. 10-11 Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell headlines an eclectic program of holiday music — embracing Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and "The Grinch" — in three Dec. 10-11 New York Pops concerts at Carnegie Hall. Expect sacred, secular, international and reinvented classics under the baton of Pops music director Steven Reineke.

Brian Stokes Mitchell
Brian Stokes Mitchell

Essential Voices USA, led by Judith Clurman, and children from the Camp Broadway Chorus join the orchestra for this annual holiday concert, a popular tradition at the famed concert hall in Manhattan.

In addition to the two 8 PM evening programs, the orchestra will present a retelling of the Dr. Seuss holiday classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" as a 2 PM Saturday-afternoon family concert on Dec. 11. Mitchell, a Best Actor Tony Award winner for Kiss Me, Kate, will sing the classic, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

About the holiday collaboration with Reineke, Mitchell told Playbill.com, "We both love Christmas music, and it's so exciting to do a show at Carnegie Hall with an 80-piece orchestra and a 50-voice choir. We have a brand new work that's being presented, 'Habari Gani,' which is for Kwanzaa, and the chorus will be singing that. Judith Clurman did a new translation [and] got some new lyrics together for a Chanukah medley [Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah, with arrangements by Mitchell, Clurman and Broadway's Larry Hochman]."

In addition to classic Christmas carols, Mitchell (the Broadway star of Ragtime, Man of La Mancha and the current Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) will sing Broadway and pop write John Bucchino's "Grateful."

Mitchell said, "I've done that before in holiday concerts and it's just a perfect holiday song because, if there's anything, I think, that the holidays are about, it's being grateful for what we have, what we're able to give for the friends that are around us and surround us. I'm very grateful for that and that's a perfect song to express that." There will be twists this year on "The Little Drummer Boy," and Leroy Anderson's old pops classic, "Sleigh Ride," which is usually an instrumental climaxing with a brass horse whinny.

Reineke explained, " We've commissioned four or five new arrangements for the orchestra and for Stokes that haven't been heard before, that are going to be done for the first time, and that's what keeps it fresh and exciting — to take tunes that people think they know and to do them in a different way. For example, one that I'm really excited about is this great new arrangement of 'The Little Drummer Boy.' Stokes has a different version of 'Sleigh Ride,' a different arrangement that gives a whole new fresh spin to it. This is not your daddy's version of 'Sleigh Ride.' It's a little revved up."

"But," Mitchell said, "there's a tip of the hat to Leroy Anderson's [version]. I mean, you can't mess with 'Sleigh Ride' too much. That's one of the most beloved Christmas songs."

"It's just jazzed up," Reineke said. "You can tell it's 'Sleigh Ride,' but it's a jazzed up version of it. And don't worry — you still get the horse whinny."

Single tickets are $33 to $106. Purchases can be made at the Carnegie Hall Box Office (57th Street and 7th Avenue) or by calling CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800. Visit www.carnegiehall.org for more information.

Playbill visited Mitchell and Reineke at a recent rehearsal session:

 

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