Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Video: Getting to Know Tony Award Winner Lillias White, Star of the Broadway-Bound World Premiere of ‘Gotta Dance’

Lillias White sings “Home,” at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lillias White sings “Home,” at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony award-winner Lillias White (Fela!, The Life) stars as Bea in the Broadway-Bound World Premiere of Gotta Dance, based on the 2008 documentary by Dori Berinstein which tells the story of professional basketball’s first ever aged 60-and-older dance team, at Broadway In Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre (18 W Monroe St, Chicago), December 13, 2015 through January 17, 2016. Opening night is set for December 28th. Produced by Dori Berinstein and Bill Damaschke, the musical is directed and choreographed by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, and is scheduled to head to Broadway in fall 2016. Click here for tickets and more information.

The vocal powerhouse was last seen on Broadway as Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti in FELA! for which she received a Tony® nomination. Other awarded performances include Crowns (Audelco), Romance In Hard Times (Obie), Sesame Street (Emmy), The Lillias White Effect (2015 Outstanding Major Engagement Bistro Award), Texas In Paris (Lucille Lortel Nomination).

For her portrayal of Sonja in the Broadway musical Cy Coleman’s The Life, Ms. White received the “Quadruple Crown” of Broadway Awards: 1997-98 Drama Desk Award, Friends of New York Theatre, Outer Critics Circle, and Tony® Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Lillias White, Elain Graham and Billy Porter after a performance of Porter's While I Yet Live at The Duke Theater on October 30, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lillias White, Elain Graham and Billy Porter after a performance of Porter’s While I Yet Live at The Duke Theater on October 30, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Other Broadway credits – Joice Heth in Barnum (Broadway debut), Effie Melody White in Dreamgirls (20th anniversary concert recording available on Nonesuch Records)Chicago, Grizzabella in Cats, Asaka in Once On This Island  and Jonesy in How To Succeed….  Last Fall, she appeared as Gertrude in the Off-Broadway production of Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live (Primary Stages). TV credits – GothamPerson of Interest,  PBS-TV’S Great Performances-South Pacific,  Law & Order,  Law and Order: SVUSesame Street.  FILM – Game 6Pieces of April, Voice of Lead MUSE in Disney’s Hercules.  Ms. White is an in-demand Cabaret and concert performer and has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Venetian Room, JAZZ@Lincoln Center, The Blue Note, The SYDNEY Opera House and 54 BELOW. Ms. White holds an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the City University of New York.

The cast of GOTTA DANCE. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The cast of GOTTA DANCE. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Ms. White stars alongside Tony® Award nominee André De Shields, five-time Emmy® Award nominee Georgia Engel, television and film icon Stefanie Powers (in her Broadway debut), Lori Tan Chinn, Haven Burton and Nancy Ticotin. The cast also features Murphy Cross, Joanna Jones (NBC’s “Sing Off”), Madeleine Doherty (Gigi), Tracy Jai Edwards (Legally Blonde), Diane Findlay (Fish in the Dark), Lenora Nemetz (Gypsy), Jonalyn Saxer (Honeymoon in Vegas), and Kay Walbye (Urinetown), along with Alexander Aguilar, Adinah Alexander, Sydni Beaudoin, Holly Ann Butler, Paula Caselton, Ari Groover, Colby Lewis, Lance Roberts, Elise Santora, Austin Scott III, and Virginia Ann Woodruff.

Murphy Cross, Lori Tan Chinn, Ari Groover, Lillias White, Madeline Doherty, André De Shields, Stefanie Powers, Nick Kenkel, Erich McMillan McCall, Virginia Ann Woodruff, Paula Caselton, Holly Butler at 'On Your Feet!' at the Marquis Theatre in New York on November 4, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Murphy Cross, Lori Tan Chinn, Ari Groover, Lillias White, Madeline Doherty, André De Shields, Stefanie Powers, Nick Kenkel, Erich McMillan McCall, Virginia Ann Woodruff, Paula Caselton, Holly Butler at ‘On Your Feet!’ at the Marquis Theatre in New York on November 4, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Gotta Dance brings together an all-star creative team that includes a book by Tony Award- nominee Chad Beguelin (Aladdin) and Tony Award-winner Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), music by Tony and Emmy Award nominee Matthew Sklar (Elf) and lyrics by Tony Award-nominee Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), with additional music by Marvin Hamlisch (an Emmy, Grammy®, Tony and Oscar® winner) and direction and choreography by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with co-choreography by Nick Kenkel.

One remarkable dance team. One big chance. One small twist. You gotta be over 60. Gotta Dance is the incredible true story of ten determined dreamers who audition to dance at half time for a major NBA team. They have three things in common: they love to dance, they have something to prove, and they are all over 60. It isn’t until they make the cut that they find out they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing-they are going to bring down the house with a style that’s entirely new to them: hip hop. Gotta Dance is an original Broadway-bound musical about a group of ordinary seniors with extraordinary dreams as they battle prejudice, self-doubt and each other for a chance to bust a move at center court in front of 20 thousand screaming fans.

The creative team of Gotta Dance reunites Mitchell with his Kinky Boots collaborators, including five time Tony Award nominee David Rockwell (Scenic Design), Tony Award-winner Gregg Barnes (Costume Design) and Tony Award-winner Kenneth Posner (Lighting Design), four-time Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski (Sound Design), Tony Award-winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), Charlie Alterman (Musical Director), with casting by Telsey + Company/Craig Burns, CSA.

The Pre-Broadway World Premiere of Gotta Dance is part of the Broadway In Chicago Fall 2015-16 Season Subscription Series. Tickets ($42-$102) can be purchased by visiting www.BroadwayInChicago.com. Group tickets for 10 or more can be purchased by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, TEXAS IN PARIS star Lillias White and Ebony Jo-Ann at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter's in New York on January 29, 2015. Photo by GK

Lia Chang, TEXAS IN PARIS star Lillias White and Ebony Jo-Ann at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s in New York on January 29, 2015. Photo by GK

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachang.com

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