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Brian Stokes Mitchell joins the choir for “20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” – Dec. 24 at 8 pm


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Star-studded “20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” Anniversary Retrospective Narrated by Broadway Legend Brian Stokes Mitchell to Air on PBS

Two-hour special combines performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Hugh Bonneville, the Muppets from “Sesame Street”, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Gladys Knight, Angela Lansbury, Natalie Cole, Tom Brokaw, Renée Fleming, Richard Thomas, Jane Seymour, and many others

 

This December, WOUB will air “20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir,” a special two-hour anniversary retrospective program hosted by Broadway legend and Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Brian Stokes Mitchell at the piano
20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir narrated by Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Performances from more than 40 guest artists and narrators who have starred in the Christmas tradition over the past 20 years will be featured, including Broadway stars Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Angela Lansbury, Kelli O’Hara, Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes; R&B singer Gladys Knight; the late jazz singer Natalie Cole; pop singer David Archuleta; legendary newscasters Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw; historian David McCullough; the Muppets from “Sesame Street”; actors Jane Seymour, Hugh Bonneville, Richard Thomas, the late Ed Herrmann, John Rhys-Davies, Roma Downey, the late Peter Graves, Claire Bloom, Michael York and Martin Jarvis; opera stars Renée Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Frederica von Stade, Bryn Terfel, Nathan Gunn, Alfie Boe, Sissel, Rolando Villazón and four Metropolitan Opera soloists and the London-based a cappella group, The King’s Singers. Collectively, the featured guests have garnered 34 Grammy Awards, 19 Tony Awards, 14 Emmy Awards, 10 Golden Globe Awards, three BAFTA Awards, one Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Olivier Award.

“So much effort and creativity went into preserving this beloved tradition—now 20 years strong—in the middle of a global pandemic that has disrupted so much,” said Brian Stokes Mitchell. “I am honored to be a part of it. Not only will viewers enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce the most watched holiday special on PBS for 16 years, but they will also be able to feast on all of the wonderful moments this holiday special has delivered over the past two decades and remember how music connects people in very profound ways.”

This special two-hour “20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” retrospective replaces the traditional TV special that would have been created from a live Christmas concert in 2020 that had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions. In new segments filmed in November 2020 (following COVID protocols), Mitchell joined a handful of socially distanced Orchestra members and the Choir’s musical director Mack Wilberg in an empty 21,000 seat Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to record intimate Christmas classics. The Choir also joins Stokes and the Orchestra in its first-ever all virtual performance.

the Tabernacle ChoirWoven throughout the intimate performances, behind-the-scenes views, reflections and storytelling led by Mitchell are soul-stirring standout moments. Highlights include a rendition of “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” featuring Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Osnes, Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón, Deborah Voigt, Alfie Boe and Nathan Gunn; “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow,” featuring Audra McDonald; Gospel favorite “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” featuring Gladys Knight; Angela Lansbury joining the Choir in “Not While I’m Around” from “Sweeney Todd”; “O Holy Night” featuring Kristin Chenoweth; “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” from “The King and I,” featuring Kelli O’Hara; “My Grown-Up Christmas List,” featuring the late Natalie Cole; plus performances from the Muppets from “Sesame Street”; Broadway star Santino Fontana; operatic stars Deborah Voigt, Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón, Bryn Terfel, Frederica Von Stade; Alfie Boe; soloists from the Metropolitan Opera; and The King’s Singers.

In addition to the musical performances, which reflect a variety of musical styles and traditions from around the world, the special highlights the range of past narrators who have joined the Choir and Orchestra to tell the stories of Christmas, including Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey,” “Paddington”), John Rhys-Davies (“The Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones”), Jane Seymour (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Somewhere in Time”), Richard Thomas (“The Waltons,” “The Americans”), the late Ed Hermann (“The Lost Boys,” “Annie”), legendary news broadcasters including the late Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw and more. Together with the music, these standout moments help tell the storied history of this beloved institution, which every year celebrates the love, spirit and peace of the season.

“Due to COVID-19, we couldn’t have the in-person audience we always do, but the lockdown gave us a chance to provide audiences at home something different than they would experience in a normal concert year,” said Wilberg. “Because of the remarkable breadth of material we have from 20 years of Christmas concerts, there will be something for everyone in this retrospective, making it a wonderful way to celebrate and emphasize the true meaning of Christmas. It’s always a joy working with Brian Stokes Mitchell, who is not only a consummate performer, but also a warm and incredible person—qualities that comes across in everything he does. We are so pleased he is the one to tell the story of this concert tradition.”

Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell is an accomplished actor, singer, musician and arranger. Mitchell 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.” In 2016, he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and received his most recent Tony Award for his work as Chairman of the Board of The Actor’s Fund, a position he has continuously held since 2004. He is also on the Board and Artist Committee of Americans for the Arts and is a founding member of Black Theatre United.

For more information, please visit pbs.org/tabernaclechoir.