Home » London Theatre Reviews » Lillias White – The Seth Concert Series | Review

Lillias White – The Seth Concert Series | Review

Lillias WhiteYou know those singers who can sing very loud and hold notes for a long time, but whose performances still seem a bit lacking in passion? Lillias White is absolutely not one of those people.

The Broadway star has worked across film and television, in a range of different shows from Sesame Street to Law & Order, and it was slightly surprising that not one of those roles was name-dropped in this concert. Then again, there are enough musical theatre roles that White has taken on over the years to not have to talk about anything else, so marks for being on point and in focus.

In her childhood, White had wanted to be a nurse, and then a ballerina, but there wasn’t a ballet school nearby, her teacher at school was far from encouraging, and in any event, it was back in the days when black people just didn’t do ballet. When she went to high school, however, the New York public schools (in British English: state schools) had revised their curriculum, such that she (and indeed anyone else) was able to study ‘dance’ instead of ‘gym’. As for singing, that all started as a result of listening to the music purchased by her family, which included records released by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dinah Washington and Barbra Streisand.

Cy Coleman’s (1929-2004) compositions featured heavily in this concert: the opening number, ‘The Other Side of the Tracks’ from Little Me, was very different from ‘The Oldest Profession’ from The Life which closed proceedings. Then there was ‘Thank God I’m Old’ from Barnum (composer: Cy Coleman) also suited White brilliantly, counting her blessings with a cheery disposition even whilst the world is seemingly getting gloomier and more confrontational.

The live entertainment industry doesn’t go all that well with raising a family. White’s daughter was still a toddler when White was offered a role in the 1983 US national tour of Dreamgirls, and so it was a big decision to leave home in New York and go off to Los Angeles, where the tour was to start. The producers had arranged for her to be reviewed, which, given she was the ‘standby’ for the lead character of Effie White with only the weekend matinees as regular performances, unusual to say the least (it still is). But it was indicative of how well she was being received even without being given top billing.

There were the usual stories of on-stage mishaps and arduous audition processes. During rehearsals for what was to become a short-lived production of Rock ‘N Roll! The First 5,000 Years, a musical revue, someone in the cast abruptly left to pursue a career as a solo recording artist. That decision to leave a Broadway show caught the creatives and the rest of the cast by surprise, though nobody (apparently) could have foreseen the 300 million records that Madonna would go on to sell.

White’s rendering of ‘I Am Changing’ from Dreamgirls was simply breathtaking, and her warmth and sparkling personality was very much evident throughout the evening. I’m quite sure that an in-person concert (as opposed to an online one) would have had the audience enthusiastically applauding such a passionate and delightful performance.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Mark Cortale Presents

Sunday, November 15th at 8PM EST
Monday, November 16th at 3PM EST

Sunday, November 22nd at 8PM EST
Monday, November 23rd at 3PM EST

Sunday, November 29th at 8PM EST
Monday, November 30th at 3PM EST



Scroll to Top