Brian Stokes Mitchell has garnered critical acclaim for his performance in Ragtime as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Toronto and Los Angeles, and has now set Broadway aflame at the new Ford Center on Forty Second Street.

Now, I must tell you that with all the hype surrounding Ragtime from its inception in Canada onward, I was a bit skeptical. However, when I finally saw the show it blew me away. So did Stokes. Never have I given a manic jump-up-and-down screaming ovation but Ragtime had me enraptured.

I found out through an ensemble cast member that my review had been posted backstage so I thought it a perfect time to make my move. Several e-mails were swapped back and forth with Stokes and then I requested an interview which he consented; so we scheduled a meeting at Joe Allens through his publicist. I arrived early and slugged down two Lillets to calm my nerves. I didn't know that I wouldn't need them. When Stokes arrived, we gabbed for about ten minutes before I remembered to turn on the tape recorder. Before I knew it we were chatting up a storm, while dining on chocolate pudding, and let me tell you, he's warm, he's hilarious and he's the real thing.

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