Chicago – The Sarah Siddons Society of Chicago is proud to announce the 2020 winner of the prestigious Actor of the Year Award, Brian Stokes Mitchell, one of our country’s central leading Broadway stars since the 1990s, as well as an accomplished TV and film actor. The organization is planning a virtual event to present the Award on Sunday, November 29th at 5pm, and will be free of charge. The event will celebrate his theatrical accomplishments with congratulatory messages from his colleagues as well as recognizing his philanthropic work with the Actors Fund. Chicago performers to be named will present musical selections from his past Broadway shows and the 2020 The Sarah Siddons Society scholarship recipients will be recognized.
“We are delighted to honor such an astonishingly talented actor and someone who continues to make a meaningful difference in the theatre community during these difficult times through his leadership with The Actors Fund,” said The Sarah Siddons Society President, Martin Balogh.
Dubbed “the last leading man” by The New York Times, Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell has enjoyed a career that spans Broadway, television, film, and concert appearances with the country’s finest conductors and orchestras.
He 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 Shuffle Along. In 2016 he was awarded his second Tony Award, the prestigious Isabelle Stevenson Tony for his Charitable work with The Actors Fund. That same year Stokes was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
An extremely versatile and in-demand singer, Stokes has performed at venues spanning jazz, opera, pops, country, and musical theater worlds. He has worked with John Williams, Marvin Hamlisch, Gustavo Dudamel, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, 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. He has been invited twice to perform at the White House (both times aired on PBS’s “Great Performances”) and has performed multiple times 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. A self-professed autodidact, his musical curiosity led him to teach himself composing, arranging and orchestration, starting in his teens. He later studied, Film scoring, orchestration, and conducting both privately and through UCLA and subsequently 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 Simply Broadway and his latest recording Plays With Music. Stokes has appeared on more than 20 albums.
His extensive screen credits began with a guest starring role on “Roots:The next Generations”, followed by a 7-year stint on Trapper John, MD and have continued with memorable appearances on everything from PBS’ Great Performances to The Fresh Prince, Frasier, Glee, Jumping the Broom and his most recent recurring roles on Madam Secretary, Mr. Robot, The Path, Billions and The Good Fight. Other recent TV appearances include The Blacklist, Elementary, and Bull. As a voice-over artist he has played dozens of characters on animated TV episodes including performing “Through Heaven’s Eyes” in Dreamwork’s “The Prince of Egypt.”
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.
Stokes has enjoyed working with numerous charitable organizations from the March of Dimes to the USO. He is on the board of Americans For the Arts and is serving his 14th term as Chairman of the Board of the Actors Fund.
The Sarah Siddons Society was begun in 1952, with Helen Hayes as the first recipient of this prestigious award. Inspired by the Oscar winning film ALL ABOUT EVE, which began with a famous awards ceremony in a prestigious club called The Sarah Siddons Society, the organization has given the award to some of America’s most brilliant actors of stage and screen. Among the many recipients are Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera, Audra Mc Donald and many more luminaries from the theatre.