Gala Concert: Broadway’s Brightest Stars program notes

Monday, August 3, 2020 , 6:30 PM

Online Broadcast

As Broadway royalty goes, it doesn’t get any classier than Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, and Brian Stokes Mitchell, a trio of stars that has lit up the musical theatre firmament for the last three decades.

Take Ms. McDonald. As fine an actor as she is a singer, her lyrical soprano embraces opera and musicals by way of standards and jazz. She has won a record-breaking six Tony Awards during her career, and in 2015, Time magazine named her one of the year’s 100 most influential people. That was the year President Obama presented her with the National Medal of Arts. Her sublime performance as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s live telecast of The Sound of Music was watched by an estimated American audience of 18.5 million.

A native of Fresno, California, she won her first Tony Award, for Carousel, the year after graduating from Juilliard. Other Tony wins include her emotion-saturated Bess in Porgy and Bess and her harrowing turn as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. In her rare downtime, she’s a passionate advocate for equality and disadvantaged youth and has even managed to rescue a dog from the canine equivalent of death row.

At home on stage, screen, and TV, Ms. O’Hara is an equally flexible talent. From her 2005 Tony nomination as Clara, a young girl in a whirlwind romance in Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza, to singing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, she is a Broadway favorite portraying feisty young women in roles that showcase her celebrated upper register.  In 2015, she won the Tony Award for her portrayal of the spirited governess, Anna Leonowens, in The King and I. That same year, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in The Merry Widow, returning to sing Despina in Così fan tutte in 2018.

Other triumphs include South Pacific at Lincoln Center and last year’s Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate. She is also sought after on the concert platform, memorably singing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the New York Philharmonic last year, as well as appearing regularly on PBS’s live telecasts.

And then there’s Mr. Stokes. The Seattle-born baritone with the big, beefy voice is another Broadway star whose career has transcended the stage. He won the Tony Award for his star turn as egotistical impresario Fred Graham in the 2000 revival of Kiss Me, Kate and was Tony-nominated for his acclaimed portrayal of Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha as well as for his role as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in the original 1998 cast of Ragtime, in which he played opposite Ms. McDonald.

He is also a self-taught composer and musical arranger with a discography of over 20 recordings. As a vocalist, his repertoire ranges from classical to jazz and country. He’s appeared with John Williams, Gustavo Dudamel, and even the Muppets. On TV, he enjoyed a seven-year run on Trapper John, M.D., as well as playing Frasier’s upstairs neighbor and archenemy. Offstage, he is serving his 14th term as Chairman of the Board of the Actors Fund, is a qualified pilot, and apparently can bicycle on a tightrope.

How’s that for a flexible trio.

This concert pays tribute to Earl and Carol Holding and Family. On August 14, 2006, Carol Nie, president of the then Sun Valley Summer Symphony Board, received a letter from Earl Holding, in which he wrote:

“The synergy between the Symphony and the Resort is a powerful and positive relationship and the Symphony home on the esplanade is a natural and perfect setting. Sun Valley will partner with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony to design and create a pavilion to replace the tent that would be the permanent home to the Symphony and provide a venue that would embrace other concert acts during the summer season.”

Fourteen years later, thousands gather in the beautiful Sun Valley Pavilion and on the Lawn to enjoy the classical music concerts and other performances that have become an essential element of summer in Sun Valley. On behalf of full-time and seasonal residents as well as visitors, the Sun Valley Music Festival expresses its deep gratitude to Earl and Carol Holding and Family for this incomparable gift to the entire community.