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Review: WE'RE BACK. LILLIAS WHITE is a Force of Nature at The Green Room 42

Lillias White Tears Up The Green Room 42 Through August 14

Review: WE'RE BACK. LILLIAS WHITE is a Force of Nature at The Green Room 42

At one point during her show WE'RE BACK which opened tonight at The Green Room 42, Lillias White left the stage to talk to a table of patrons who were being overly chatty. She turned it into an opportunity to talk to every table in the place. Flirting, touching, schmoozing, and scat singing. She was funny, sexy, earthy sensual, and in command. The audience ate it up and loved her. But walking through the house was only the icing on the cake. The audience already was already in love with her. Some of us walked in the door in love with her. We've loved her since we first saw her in Barnum some 40 years ago.

Lillias White (Dreamgirls, Cats, Once On This Island, How to Succeed, The Life, Fela!) is the kind of performer who engenders adoration. She serves up joy and talent in giant portions in everything she does. She won the Tony for The Life, the Obie for Romance in Hard Times, and a Daytime Emmy for her role on Sesame Street. She was also Tony-nominated for her stunning turn in Fela! Her voice is instantly recognizable. No one sings like her. The force of her voice and her presence is as elemental as air, water, earth, and fire.

This show is timed to coincide with the release of her album GET YOURSELF SOME HAPPY, which was recorded just before the pandemic at Old Mill Road Studio in Arlington, Vermont. It is, almost unbelievably, Ms. White's first studio album. It was a passion project between White, producer Joshua Sherman, and long-time musical director/arranger/pianist Timothy Graphenreed. The album is dedicated to Graphenreed who died in March just before the release of the album. It is filled with songs of joy and happiness.

Review: WE'RE BACK. LILLIAS WHITE is a Force of Nature at The Green Room 42

Lillias White told us she very recently became a septuagenarian. You would never guess it. She danced, undulated, and high kicked her way through a delightful 70-minute program. She started with Kander & Ebb's "Yes," dressed in a diaphanous white ensemble, looking every inch the Broadway star she is. She followed up with Harold Arlen's "Get Happy." She treated us to a gritty taste of Ethel Waters with "Bread and Gravy," a delicious 12-bar blues song. She gave us some uptempo brilliance to the Gershwin's "The Man I Love." She did some virtuoso scatting in this number.

She took a moment to introduce a new song by Gail and Eileen Bluestone, "A Little Imagination." It was a special occasion as Eileen Blackstone was in the house. She paid tribute to her Disney association by singing Disney's signature theme song "When You Wish Upon a Star. " The most haunting moment of the evening came when she brought it down with a gorgeous version of Maria Muldaur's "Love Wants to Dance." It was a potent reminder that she won that Tony Award for acting. It was a beautiful scene.

The last part of the concert was filled with one diva number after another, including "Just Because of You, " "So Happy Together," Make Someone Happy," and the "One-Note Samba." I'm not sure where Ms. White gets her energy from, but they should bottle it. Her vocal instrument is in remarkable shape and she always takes an unexpected turn in the melody that reveals something new and wonderful about even the most familiar standard. Her encore, "That's All" is a perfect example. She latched on to every nuance in the lyric to connect with her audience and send them off with a one-of-a-kind experience.

Her band was magnificent. Savannah Harris, Corcoran Holt, and Steve Bargonetti are amazing musicians who were all featured in several songs. They are first-rate jazz players who are creative and sensitive. Musical director, Mathis Picard was off the charts in his interplay with Lillias White. He is a virtuoso jazzman, who displayed his brilliance without ever overshadowing. Every time he was given a solo, it was an inventive thing of beauty. But that should come as no surprise. Inventive things of beauty are Lillias White's stock in trade. She is at The Green Room 42 on August 13 & 14. Do yourself a favor and get there and Get Yourself Some Happy.

Review: WE'RE BACK. LILLIAS WHITE is a Force of Nature at The Green Room 42

For more information on Lillias White or to get a copy of GET YOURSELF SOME JOY, visit lilliaswhite.com. The Album is also available on all streaming platforms. For tickets to GET YOURSELF SOME HAPPY or to check out other great acts at The Green Room 42, go to greenfignyc.com.


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