B.S.M.: Ah, brilliant! Julie Taymor is a goddess. I cried a number times during that show.

C.D'A.: Oh, I just lost it several times.

B.S.M.: Oh, yeah, just from the sheer artistry of it all. It's so hard to believe that all of that came out of one person's head and then was realized so incredibly by so many. I went to the opening night. During the party I was talking to one of my friends in the show and mentioned that I'd love to meet Julie Taymor and he said, "Well, she's right there." So I went over and told her, "Oh, my God, that's the most incredible thing I've ever seen. That was brilliant!" Then on the opening night of our show, I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was Julie saying the most wonderful things about my performance. We talked about doing something together sometime. We exchanged numbers but we still haven't had a lunch. I'm just nuts about her work, she has such a brilliant, creative mind.

C.D'A.: Speaking of goddesses, let's talk about Chita Rivera.

B.S.M.: She is one of the great friends and inspirations in my life. Oh, I'm just crazy for her. I first met her when I was doing Kiss of The Spider Woman. The first day of rehearsal with her she came up to me and gave me the biggest, warmest, most enthusiastic hug. She's been such a great supporter and mentor. She gave me a beautiful crystal angel when I opened Ragtime here in New York. She is my angel. What an incredible woman and artist.

C.D'A.: What's your favorite cocktail?

B.S.M.: Oh, I love a margarita with no salt. Overall, though, alcohol doesn't do much for me, I find it dulls the senses.

C.D'A.: I'm so sorry to hear that. What do you think of Frank Wildhorn?

B.S.M.: I actually know Frank, because my wife Allyson was in Jekyll and Hyde for a while. I know Linda (Eder) as well... I just saw her at the Westminster Dog Show. Both Linda and Frank are great people and quite talented.

C.D'A.: What's the first thing you think of when I say... Oh Kay!

B.S.M.: "O.K" OOOHHH. There's that word. Although many critics said nice things' I think I was mediocre in it... I was just... okay. I don't think that style of theatre is what I do best... but there were certainly some terrific performers doing really good work in it... and it's where I met my wife.

C.D'A.: Who are your favourite composers or songwriters?

B.S.M.: For composers, I'd have to chose Stravinsky and Copeland. Songwriters? I love Gershwin. You know, it sounds like BS but I love Stephen's and Lynn's stuff. And Sondheim of course. I'm crazy about Sondheim. Sweeney Todd is one of the greatest shows ever written. I have said that's a role I'd love to do one of these days. But then it occurred to me a few months ago that I'm kinda playing Sweeney Todd now with Coalhouse. Except I get to also play pre-wacky Sweeney. The audience gets to see Coalhouse as joyful, charming, loving and tender before he goes off the deep end. And, of course, I get the resolution at the end, I mean, they really are the same role. They are both men driven to madness due to injustice and an assault on their loved one.

I also love Join Mitchell... incredible lyrics... Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor and Billy Joel. And Duke Ellington... there are so many...

C.D'A.: Why do you think that Ragtime is so popular?

B.S.M.: The show seems to be just what we need at the end of the century... heck, the millennium! Ragtime is what I call a Zeitgeist show... a show that captures a certain spirit of the time. Camelot represented the innocence of the early 60's, Hair captured the disillusionment with the establishment in the latter 60's, Godspell represented a spiritual re-awaking of the 70's - the list goes on. Zeitgeist shows seem to resonate deeply in hearts and minds of their audiences and Ragtime certainly seems to be doing that.

C.D'A.: What does the future hold after Ragtime?

B.S.M.: I'll probably go back to Los Angeles and get a film career going... those pieces seem to be in place. Also, there are albums to be recorded. Most Broadway folks know me for my theatrical sound but I also sing jazz, pop, and classical. However, since my immediate audience wants to hear theatre songs, that's what I'll give 'em first ...but with my own twist. However, I also plan on doing the pop and jazz albums as well. So much to do and such little time!

Visit Brian's website at www.BrianStokes.com...

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