Lillias White Joins Off-Broadway Blind Lemon Blues

The York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director) and Documentary Arts in association with Central Track Productions have announced that Tony Award winner Lillias White will join the cast of the Off-Broadway premiere of Blind Lemon Blues, created by Alan Govenar and Akin Babatunde featuring more than 60 Blind Lemon Jefferson songs. Performances begin February 15th and continue through February 25th only, at The York Theatre at St. Peter's (54th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues). Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling The York Theatre Box Office at 212-935-5820 or online at www.yorktheatre.org .

Lillias White is a native New Yorker. On Broadway she has performed in The Life as Sonia, for which she received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and the Friends of New York Awards. Her other Broadway credits include How To Succeed In Business... (Jonesey), Cats (Grizzabella), Once on This Island (Asaka), Dreamgirls (Effie) and Chicago (Mama Morton). Off-Broadway, she¹s been seen in The Vagina Monologues, Crowns (Audelco Award), Dinah Was (as Dinah Washington) and in William Finn's Romance in Hard Times (Obie Award). On film, Lillias has been seen in Game Six with Michael Keaton, Pieces of April with Katie Holmes and she is the voice of the lead muse in Disney animated Hercules. Lillias¹ television appearances include "Law and Order," "Law and Order SVU," "Great Performances" with the Boston Pops, and most recently, in "Great Performances Live from Carnegie Hall" as Bloody Mary in South Pacific. In addition to her work on stage, screen, and television, Lillias performs regularly with the Colorado Symphony ("Too Hot to Handel") the Palm Beach Pops, NY Pops and in other venues worldwide including Jazz at Lincoln Center and at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in California. As a recording artist, Lillias has recorded the Broadway cast recordings of How To Succeed In Business, The Life, The Odd Potato, Dreamgirls 20th Anniversary Concert, The Actor¹s Fund productions of Hair and Funny Girl, as well as her own CD "From Brooklyn to Broadway." Her latest album of jazz music will be released in 2007.

As Blind Lemon Jefferson, Akin Babatunde heads a cast of seven multi-talented performers who sing, dance and bring to life one of America's great musical legends. In addition to Babatunde and White, the cast also includes Benita Arterberry, Cavin Yarbrough, Alisa Peoples Yarbrough, Walter Fauntleroy, with guitarist Sam Swank. In addition to performing, Mr. Babatunde provides direction, choreographic staging and musical arrangements developed in association with Cavin and Alisa Peoples Yarbrough.

Blind Lemon Blues is set in New York City in 1948 at the last recording session of the legendary Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, and combines elements of traditional blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, doo-wop, and rap to evoke the enduring legacy of Blind Lemon and his contemporaries, Blind Willie Johnson, Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Bobbie Cadillac, Lillian Miller and Leadbelly himself.

Blind Lemon Blues celebrates the legacy of Blind Lemon Jefferson and his profound influence upon the development of American popular music. Jefferson was a blind street musician who played his guitar with a tin cup tied to its neck at the corner of Elm Street and Central Avenue in Dallas, Texas until a Paramount Records scout discovered him. Between 1926 and 1929, Jefferson made more than 80 records and became the biggest selling-down-home blues singer in America. After seeing a workshop of Blind Lemon Blues, playwright August Wilson said, "I listened to the music of Blind Lemon everyday for five years. Blind Lemon Jefferson was the voice of Black America at that moment."

The Blind Lemon Blues creative team includes Set Designer Russell Parkman, Lighting Designer Steve Woods, Costume Designer Tommy Bourgeois and Choreographic Consultant Norma Miller.

Prior to its engagement at The York Theatre Company, Blind Lemon Blues will be featured at the Guggenheim Museum as part of its Works & Process series on February 11th and 12th.

The musical had its world premiere at the Forum Meyrin in Geneva, Switzerland, in February of 2004, and was featured as the opening of the Festival de L'Imaginaire in Paris, France in March of 2004. In 2005 Blind Lemon Blues made its US debut in November 2005 at the Hall of State in Dallas and returned to France for the Blues Sur Seine Festival. Following its showcase at The York Theatre, Blind Lemon Blues will be presented in a nine-city tour to The Netherlands and Belgium by the World Music Theatre Festival.

Blind Lemon Blues, is a limited engagement for 10 performances only. The schedule is: Thursday, Feb. 15th at 7PM; Friday, Feb. 16th at 8PM; Saturday, Feb. 17th at 2:30 & 8PM; Sunday, Feb. 18th at 3PM; Thursday, Feb. 22nd at 8PM; Friday, Feb. 23rd at 8PM; Saturday, Feb. 24th at 2:30 & 8PM; and Sunday, Feb. 25th at 3 PM.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling The York Theatre Box Office at 212-935-5820 or online at www.yorktheatre.org . There are also $20 student tickets available for purchase at any time.

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