As she prepares to wow the Brits with her London stage premiere in the Fats Waller musical This Joint Is Jumpin’ this April, Tony Award-winning star Lillias White is warming up for her return to Manhattan’s The Green Room 42 on March 13 with her nightclub show Black by Popular Demand, which sold out the new venue in its Valentine’s Day premiere.
In the show, White shares her favorite theatrical stories and sings her favorite songs from Funny Girl, The Life, and other Broadway shows. White made her Broadway debut in the Cy Coleman musical Barnum, then understudied the role of Effie in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls. She made that role her own in the 1987 revival, winning the Drama League Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She created the role of Sonja in Coleman's 1997 musical The Life, for which she won the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Among her other Broadway credits: Once on This Island, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Chicago, and Fela!. The latter earned her a second Tony nomination.
With music direction by Timothy Graphenreed, Black by Popular Demand will begin at 8 PM at the club, located at 570 Tenth Avenue near West 42nd Street’s Theatre Row. Tickets are $40 (no food or beverage minimum) and can be ordered at Thegreenroom42.com.
After the engagement, White is scheduled to head overseas to the U.K. where the revue This Joint Is Jumpin’ is scheduled to run April 4–15 at the Other Palace Studio at 12 Palace Street near Buckingham Palace in London. This Joint Is Jumpin’ is described as a “fusion of live jazz, thrilling tap dancing and storytelling celebrating and radically interpreting jazz icon Fats Waller’s music, breathing new life into classics such as ’Ain’t Misbehavin’,’ ’Black and Blue’ and ’Honeysuckle Rose.’”
Down the road, White is also scheduled to star in a pre-Broadway engagement of the new musical Half Time (formerly Gotta Dance), which is scheduled for a full production at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey May 31 to July 1, 2018. It’s the story of 10 “ordinary seniors with extraordinary dreams who audition to dance at half time for a major basketball team. Only after making the cut do they learn they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing—instead, they will bring down the house with a style that is entirely new to them: hip hop.”
Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots) is director and choreographer; Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer, Elf) is writing the music; Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde) is supplying the lyrics; Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer) are collaborating on the book.
In the meantime, White fans can catch her co-starring turn as Fat Annie in the Netflix series The Get Down, which premiered last August, and which is expected to announce a second season. Created by Broadway playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (The Motherf***er With the Hat) and Baz Luhrman (La Bohème), the series is set amid the street life of 1970s The Bronx, New York.
White recently returned from Playbill Travel’s most star-studded cruise yet, Broadway on the High Seas 8 in the Caribbean, on which she was a special guest performer.