Lillias White (born July 21, 1951) is an American actress and singer. She is particularly known for her performances in Broadway musicals. In 1989 she won an Obie Award for her performance in the Off-Broadway musical Romance in Hard Times. In 1997 she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for portraying Sonja in Cy Coleman's The Life. She was nominated for a Tony Award again in 2010 for her work as Funmilayo in Fela Kuti's Fela!.
White is also known for her roles as Calliope in the Disney film Hercules (1997), and its animated series of the same name; Evette in the film Pieces of April (2003); and as Fat Annie in the Netflix series The Get Down. She has also starred as Bloody Mary in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific on PBS' Great Performances with Reba McEntire, and in the PBS documentary In Performance at the White House. She is an active cabaret singer and has appeared in concert with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and at Carnegie Hall.
The Brooklyn, New York native made her Broadway debut in Barnum in 1981. She understudied the role of Effie in the original 1981 production of Dreamgirls and played the part in the 1987 revival, for which she won the Drama League Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
White has also appeared on Broadway in Cats, Carrie, Once on This Island, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Chicago, and Fela!. For her role in Cy Coleman's The Life, she won the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her portrayal of a world-weary, no-nonsense, streetwise hooker named Sonja. Off-Broadway White has performed in the Public Theater production of the William Finn musical Romance in Hard Times (1989), for which she won the Obie Award, Dinah Was (1998) at the Gramercy Theatre as singer Dinah Washington, and the Second Stage Theatre production of Regina Taylor's musical Crowns (2002), for which she and the cast won the AUDELCO Award, Outstanding Ensemble Performance. In 2014, White appeared Off-Broadway in the Primary Stages production of the play While I Yet Live by Billy Porter. In 2015, White starred with Scott Wakefield Off-Broadway in the York Theatre Company's World premiere of Alan Govenar's musical Texas in Paris.
White, André De Shields, Stefanie Powers, and Georgia Engel appeared in the new musical Gotta Dance, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, which began performances on December 13, 2015 at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre, and ran through January 17, 2016.
Concerts and cabaret
White's concert performances to benefit the Actors' Fund of America include Dreamgirls in 2001, Funny Girl in 2002, and Hair in 2004. She performed in the concert version of South Pacific, which was broadcast by PBS Great Performances in 2006. She performed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in a concert of works by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and George and Ira Gershwin celebrating the orchestra's 50th anniversary in July 2003. She also has appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall, in March 2004, singing Harold Arlen songs with the New York Pops. White performed her one-woman show at the Kennedy Center's "Barbara Cook's Spotlight" in November 2007, singing songs by Cy Coleman. At the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center she performed in a concert, Broadway's Future Songbook, in September 2014. She has toured with her one-woman cabaret show From Brooklyn to Broadway, which she first presented in March 2000 at Arci's Place in New York City. She performed the show in San Francisco in 2003 at the Plush Room.
Television and film
White's television appearances include a regular role on Sesame Street, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and NYPD Blue. Her screen credits include voiceover work in Disney's Hercules and Anastasia and appearances in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Game 6, Pieces of April and Then She Found Me.
Awards and nominations
|1997||Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||The Life||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Won|
|2009||Ovation Award||Lead Actress in a Musical||The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman||Nominated|||
|2010||Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Fela!||Nominated|
|2015||Bistro Awards||Recognized for outstanding achievement in New York cabaret, jazz and comedy||N/A||Honored|||
|1998||Me and Him||Dancing Secretary|
|1994||Bleeding Hearts||Neighbor Woman|
|1999||Gloria||Transit Cop #1|
|2000||How the Grinch Stole Christmas||Shopper|
|2002||Interview with the Assassin||Nurse|
|2003||Pieces of April||Evette|
|2005||Game 6||Toyota Moseby|
|2007||Then She Found Me||Sheila|
|1990–1994||Sesame Street||Lillian / Singer||Recurring role; 16 episodes|
|1998||Hercules||Calliope (voice)||Recurring role; 6 episodes|
|1999||Hercules: Zero to Hero||Calliope (voice)||Television film|
|2004||The Jury||Teresa Scott||Episode: "Lamentation on the Reservation "|
|2015||Gotham||Choir Member||Episode: "The Fearsome Dr. Crane"|
|2015||Person of Interest||Hon. R. Reginald||Episode: "Guilty"|
|2016–2017||The Get Down||Fat Annie||Recurring role; 9 episodes|
|2019||Russian Doll||Dr. Zaveri||Episode: "Alan's Routine"|
|1997||Disney's Animated Storybook: Hercules||Calliope|
- "IBDB: Lillias White". Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- "Broadway Artists Alliance: Lillias White". Archived from the original on January 19, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- Viagas, Robert. "Where You Can Hear Tony Winner Lillias White". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- Stasio, Marilyn. "A New Musical Finds Comedy And Romance in Hard Times' " Archived August 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine The New York Times, December 24, 1989
- Lefkowitz, David. "Tony-Winner Lillias White To Be Dinah Was-hington OB, Aug. 10" Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, August 2, 1998
- "Lortel Archives: Lillias White". Lortel Archives. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- Hetrick, Adam. "Billy Porter's 'While I Yet Live', with Lillias White and S. Epatha Merkerson, Premieres Off-Broadway" Archived September 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, September 24, 2014
- Purcell, Carey. "World Premiere of 'Texas in Paris', With Lillias White and Scott Wakefield, Opens Off-Broadway Tonight" Archived August 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, February 5, 2015
- Cox, Gordon. "Stefanie Powers, Georgia Engel Join Cast of Broadway-Bound ‘Gotta Dance’" Variety, June 29, 2015
- Viagas, Robert. "Broadway-Bound Gotta Dance, Starring Lillias White, André De Shields and Georgia Engel, Bows in Chicago" Archived January 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, December 13, 2015
- Gans, Andrew (December 14, 2015). "Gotta Dance, Helmed by Jerry Mitchell, Extends Chicago Run; Broadway Debut Set for Fall". Playbill. Archived from the original on December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- Marks, Peter. "For One Night, the Dreams Are Back" Archived April 22, 2017, at the Wayback Machine The New York Times, September 23, 2001
- Gans, Andrew. "Chenoweth, Foster, Krakowski, Murphy and White Added to 'Funny Girl' Benefit" Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, May 9, 2002
- "Stars Sign on for Actors' Fund 9/20 'Hair' Concert" Archived September 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine broadway.com, August 15, 2004
- "South Pacific in concert from Carnegie Hall". Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- Filipski, Kevin. "Broadway Star Joins the Phil in Prospect Park", The Brooklyn Paper, July 21, 2003
- Gans, Andrew. Lillias White Sings Harold Arlen at New York Pops' Carnegie Hall Concert March 5" Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine February 6, 2004
- Pressley, Nelson. "Lillias White Takes a Seat, but Her Voice Deserves a Pedestal" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine The Washington Post, November 19, 2007
- Gioia, Michael. "Lillias White, Justin Guarini, Christine Dwyer Sing Lyons and Pakchar in Free Broadway Songbook Concert Tonight" Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, September 29, 2014
- McBride, Murdoch. Lillias White Goes "From Brooklyn To Broadway" at Arci’s, March 14" Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, March 15, 2000
- Winn, Steven. "'From Brooklyn to Broadway' takes a wrong turn" Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine sfgate.com, April 10, 2003
- "IMDB: Lillias White". IMDB. Archived from the original on November 1, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- "Ovation Nominees". October 20, 2009. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- Clement, Olivia. "Tony Winner Lillias White To Be Honored at Bistro Awards Tonight" Archived August 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, February 19, 2015