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BWW EXCLUSIVE: Lillias White Talks THE SONGS OF CY COLEMAN, THE LIFE & More

Today we are talking to a Tony Award-winning Broadway leading lady noted for her affinity and affection for the music of legendary songwriter Cy Coleman, the utterly divine Lillias White. Discussing her long-standing relationship and memorable musical collaborations with Coleman himself and recounting tales from their time shared together on the original Broadway production of THE LIFE, for which White took home a Best Featured Actress In A Musical Tony Award back in 1997, White also opens up about her participation in a lesser-known Coleman property titled LIKE JAZZ and acting as a replacement performer in the original Broadway production of Coleman's circus-themed hit BARNUM. Additionally, White sheds some light on the unique 54 Below show celebrating Coleman's career kicking off this weekend at the NYC cabaret hotspot co-starring two other recognizable Tony Award winners, Randy Graff and Cady Huffman, titled OUR GUY CY: THE MUSIC OF CY COLEMAN. All of that and much more with one of Broadway's biggest divas!

More information on Lillias White in OUR GUY, CY: THE SONGS OF CY COLEMAN on May 15, 16 and 20 at 54 Below is available at the official site here.

Reflecting on her first audition for Cy Coleman, White shares, "I auditioned for Cy and Joe Layton, the director, who had I worked with on ROCK N ROLL: THE FIRST 5000 YEARS. I took over for Terri White, who originated the role that I played. So, then, I took over for her and ROCK N ROLL came along right after that so I got to do that with Joe, too. So, that closed pretty fast. BARNUM ran a couple years, though - I was in it for like fourteen months. I remember that Cy was always around - and that's one of the things that I loved about him most; he didn't just open a show and leave it, you know? He was always coming in and checking up on us and during that time we got to be great friends, too. I actually remember that he would come by and see me perform in THE LIFE, too - some nights he'd be standing off in the wings during 'The Oldest Profession' and I was so happy to see him there. Cy was always so kind to me and such a good friend to me - he used to call me a force of nature and that always made me feel really good, especially coming from him."

Recounting the impetus of THE LIFE and the first time she heard the score, White offers, "I don't remember specifically, but I do remember that it was probably at West Beth and that Joe and Cy had called me down to West Beth because they were writing a new show and they were writing a role in it just for me and they wanted me to come down and sing this song that they had just written for me to make sure the key was OK and it fit me and everything. So, that's the first time that I heard 'The Oldest Profession'."

Asked if she would consider a revival of THE LIFE, White posits, "A revival of THE LIFE? Hmm. I think I am probably a little bit too old to do that now, but I'd always be willing to give that a shot because it is something dear to my heart and it is a part that was created for me. I never say never!"

Furthermore, commenting on a feature film adaptation and whether she thinks the property would work onscreen, White states, "I do - and I know for a fact that Cy did, as well. Cy always wanted to see THE LIFE as a film - I remember having a meeting with the Weinstein brothers and doing a presentation for them about it, actually. I think it would work. I would absolutely love to be a part of it if they did it, too."

Touching upon their final collaboration, White reveals of LIKE JAZZ, "I did a production of one of Cy's later shows at the Mark Taper Forum out in LA called LIKE JAZZ. It was a show that he wrote with Alan and Marilyn Bergman and I love them - love them. Any chance I get to work with them I take - they are great, lovely people and it was a wonderful collaboration working on that show."

Sharing details on OUR GUY, CY: THE SONGS OF CY COLEMAN, White says, "Well, Cady and I did a concert in Singapore several years ago called LEADING LADIES OF THE GREAT WHITE WAY or something like that - it was me, Cady Huffman and Judy Kuhn and we got to be good friends working on that together over there. And, Randy and I have done a couple of benefits together over the years, too - that's how I know them. And, the director of our show did my first show at 54 Below last year - in May, just like this show - and I loved working with him and it was a very successful union, I think. So, when he asked me to do THE SONGS OF CY COLEMAN, I said, "Sure?! Why not?!" I thought it would be a lot of fun to do - and it has been a lot of fun so far working on it. We have some very intricate harmonies and things like that that we are doing together so we have been working hard on that. We have beautiful costumes that I was fitted for and that I love, too."

Photo Credits: Walter McBride, 54 Below, etc.



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