Lillias, Linden and Les Miz -- What a difference a replacement makes. Tony winner Lillias White, late of The Life, is leading the life of the late Dinah Was (hington), having happily inherited the part when Yvette Freeman went back on "ER" duty and the WPA production went into extra, open-ended innings six blocks farther east on 23rd Street at a brand-new theatrical venue, The Gramercy Theatre.
White's dynamo persona not only validates Oliver Goldstick's bio musical, she actually sounds like the famed blues artist -- an early calling (very!), the actress confesses: "When I was growing up in Brooklyn, all I heard around the house was Sarah and Dinah and Ella, so, when I started singing, that kind of inflection stuck. I didn't have to alter my own style much for this role."
All but one of the original supporting cast is still aboard, including the wonderful, Obie-winning Adriane Lenox, who fulfills assorted caretaking functions (mother/secretary/fan) in the show.
Six blocks south of White, another Tony winner is "Visiting Mr. Green " at the Union Square Theatre. Hal Linden is younger and grayer than his predecessor in the part, 82-year-old Eli Wallach, so it's rushing it a bit for him to play the cranky curmudgeon who must cope with a contemporary young gay man (Mitchell Anderson, one-fifth of TV's "Party of Five"). But Linden waves away any age worries: "I figure if I can stay ahead of myself, I could eventually play about 120. Then, when somebody writes a play about a 120-year-old, who are they going to think of?" *
Alice Ripley, a Tony contender for Side Show, has hitched a six month ride on Broadway's Les Misérables turntable, reprising the part she did on national tour. "Somehow I really understand a part of Fantine -- I don't really know how -- but I've loved this character since I first played her on the road, and I've always wanted to do it again." Also, this month, she and Emily Skinner (the other half of Side Show's Tony-nominated Siamese-twin act) will be together again via a Varèse Sarabande album of showtune duets written expressly for women ("If Mama Were Married," "Sisters," "Ohio," et al.). Great idea, and, believe it or not, it was Ripley's.