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February 18, 2005

With his heroic baritone and dashing stage presence, Brian Stokes Mitchell has been called Broadway's last leading man in the tradition of Alfred Drake and John Raitt. His performances in the revivals of "Kiss Me Kate" and "Man of La Mancha," and in City Center's Encores series ("Do Re Mi"), as well as assorted Gershwin tributes, have lent the swashbuckling archetype a modern slant.

Glinting through all the heavy lifting are an innate ebullience, a sense of humor and a strain of tenderness. In "Love/Life," his cabaret debut at Feinstein's, traditional Broadway chest-beating is kept to a minimum, except in a commanding version of "The Impossible Dream" at the end of the show that rolls through the club like a clap of thunder echoing in the mountains.

STEPHEN HOLDEN

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