Lillias White, a Tony winner for her knockout performance in late composer Cy Coleman's The Life, is perhaps the most soulful Broadway singer of her generation, so it seems more than appropriate that the gifted artist should be cast as the late R&B singer Big Maybelle in the current Bay Street Theatre production of Big Maybelle: Soul of the Blues, now playing the Sag Harbor venue through Sept. 2.
The New York City-aimed musical, which is presented by Bay Street in association with Martin Richards and The Gilead Company, features a book and direction by Paul Levine, who told me earlier this week how he came to cast singing actress White as the Tennessee native, who died in 1972 at the age of 47. "Dennis Johnson, a friend of mine at Showtime, read and loved the piece and asked who I had in mind to play the lead," Levine explained. "He suggested Lillias, who happened to be playing up in Ventura in a new Cy Coleman revue, so I drove up from L.A. Lil received two standing ovations — during the show — we met backstage and I immediately offered her the role. Three months later we did a workshop, and here we are in Sag Harbor, with Marty Richards producing as we move forward."
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