Playbill Records Label to Launch June 6 with "Brian Stokes Mitchell"; Complete Track Listing Announced

Playbill, the famed publication for theatre, music and the performing arts, has joined forces with Sony BMG's Legacy Recordings and Sony BMG Masterworks to create the Playbill Records label, which will launch June 6 with the release of "Brian Stokes Mitchell."

Brian Stokes Mitchell
Brian Stokes Mitchell

The self-titled album from the Tony Award-winning actor — whose impressive Broadway resume includes, among others, Ragtime; Kiss Me, Kate; and The Man of La Mancha — will feature songs by Stephen Sondheim, Adam Guettel, Cy Coleman, George and Ira Gershwin, John Bucchino, Billy Strayhorn and Leonard Bernstein.

Many of the arrangements and orchestrations for the disc were penned by Mitchell, who says he chose songs that reflect "my life and who I am—not only my musical journey but my journey through life, while also still giving [my] musical theatre [fans] what they were hoping for but being true to the sounds that I hear and my musical influences. What I ended up doing was taking mostly theatre songs. . . and giving them arrangements that weren't Broadway-style arrangements but were my unique way of arranging music."

Philip S. Birsh, the President and Publisher of Playbill Magazine, says Mitchell was a natural choice for the very first recording on the Playbill Records label. Birsh, who is also President of Playbill Records, says, "We wanted to launch with Broadway's most famous leading man. Stokes is a multifaceted performer—truly a popular and wonderfully entertaining, talented man. We are really proud to be associated with such a great friend of Playbill and such a great talent." Birsh also said in a recent statement, "We are honored to build our brand with this new franchise and continue in our endeavor to showcase the very best talent there is."

Jeff Jones, Executive Vice President of Legacy Recordings, added, "For well over a century Playbill has been the world's most trusted source of information on the performing arts. Their name and logo are synonymous with quality, and we look forward to working closely with their entire team as we develop a broad fan-base for amazing artists such as Brian Stokes Mitchell, while at the same time introducing new audiences to the extraordinary recordings contained in Sony BMG's vast archives."

Birsh, along with Playbill Records Executive Producer Richard Jay-Alexander, plans to offer three different categories of recordings on the new label. "First," relates Birsh, "is original music like the Stokes CD. The second will be the creation of great compilations, which will go under the heading of Playbill Editors' Choice. Our goal is to ultimately have more than a dozen compilations that create a core collection for people who love Broadway music. "Though we'll be working with Sony/BMG for the compilations," Birsh continues, "we will be using music from all labels. We really want to have as comprehensive compilations as possible." The third part of the joint venture between Playbill and Sony/BMG "is the re-releasing of remixed and remastered Broadway recordings that haven't been out in awhile that we feel the public would want to have and enjoy greatly."

The " Brian Stokes Mitchell" CD thrillingly blends the sounds of musical theatre and jazz, the two worlds that have had the most impact on Mitchell. The complete track listing for the upcoming disc, which was mixed by Grammy winner Al Schmitt, follows.

"Something's Coming" (L. Bernstein/S. Sondheim)
"The Best Is Yet to Come" (C. Coleman/C. Leigh)
"Pretty Women" (S. Sondheim)
"Just in Time" (J. Styne/A. Green/B. Comden)
"Lazy Afternoon" (J. Moross/J. Latouche)
"Another Hundred People"/"Take the 'A' Train" (S. Sondheim)/(B. Strayhorn)
"How Long Has This Been Going On?" (G. Gershwin/I. Gershwin)
"Life Is Sweet" (M. Tavara/L. Feather)
"Losing My Mind" (S. Sondheim)
"Being Alive" (S. Sondheim)
"How Glory Goes" (A. Guettel)
"Grateful" (J. Bucchino)

(l.-r.) Playbill President and Publisher Philip S. Birsh, Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell and Legacy Recordings Executive Vice-President Jeff Jones.
(l.-r.) Playbill President and Publisher Philip S. Birsh, Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell and Legacy Recordings Executive Vice-President Jeff Jones. (Photo by Jonathan Becker)