Listen: Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Fight to Help the Whole Industry Get Better

Gordon Cox

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Brian Stokes Mitchell is fighting to ensure that entertainment industry professionals are taken care of during the coronavirus pandemic — but first, he had to get better himself.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

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The Tony-winning Broadway favorite announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 in early April, but he’s since recovered. Speaking on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast, Mitchell described his road to getting better. “I had quite a battle with it,” he said.

But, he added, “I was fortunate that toward the end of my illness was when it started going into my lungs, [and] it didn’t go in terribly. I felt it first in my trachea, and I could feel it going into my lungs a little bit. It got to the point where if I took a big breath, I would start coughing, but when I was vocalizing, I realized it was going away more and more. … I would say now if I take a really deep breath, I’m 99.99% back. I can feel just a little something at the top of my breath, but other than that, it feels quite good now.”

Soon after he started to feel better, he took up singing “The Impossible Dream,” his signature tune from “Man of La Mancha,” out the window of his Upper West Side apartment as a way of saying thanks to first responders — but eventually decided to stop, out of concern for the safety of the crowds he was attracting. These days, Mitchell, the longtime chair of the Actors Fund, is using his voice to bang the drum for support services for the entertainment industry pros impacted by the pandemic.

He said that by June, the Fund is expecting to have handed out $27 million in emergency financial assistance, which is four times the amount the organization would normally give out in a year. “There’s also an increased need for services around health insurance, education enrollment, navigating careers, because nobody knows where we’re going to be with our careers,” he noted. “And also the government systems in the COVID economy. Mental health, addiction and recovery, which is being impacted really strongly by this, of course. Affordable housing as well, because so many people are going to be out of work.”

Also on the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Mitchell talked about his longtime commitment to charitable organizations, revealed what he believes he does best and explained why “The Impossible Dream” is the perfect song for right now.

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher and anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

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