Lillias White’s Formidable Vocals And Charisma Pervades Feinstein’s

July 16, 2021

L-R Mathis Picard & Lillias White – Courtesy of Tom Alvarez. Used with permission

There was absolutely no question that Broadway doyenne Lillias White had the crowd at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael completely enthralled when she made her debut at the swanky Carmel club on Friday, July 9, the first show of a two-night run. Adding to the evening’s stellar entertainment was the superb musicianship of her pianist extraordinaire  and music director Mathis Picard, together holding court in the posh room that is the newest cabaret bearing Michael Feinstein’s’ name.

L-R Mathis Picard & Lillias White – Courtesy of Tom Alvarez. Used with permission

I have seen my share of some of the world’s top cabaret artists over the years, but rarely have I seen such spontaneous interaction with an audience as that of White’s. Early on, she revealed how nervous she was, though one certainly couldn’t tell based on her rapport with the crowd, but then again, that might have been her secret weapon. Disclosing her fear seemed to dispel the stage fright and the audience seemed to love her all the more when she shared her vulnerability. It was clear the receptive crowd loved the human connection with White and each other, an element we all sorely missed during the pandemic.

Thoroughly engaging her audience, Tony Award-winner White was captivating as she offered up a setlist that included songs from her newest album “Get Yourself Some Happy!” that will be released on July 23. Showing off her powerful vocals, she combined her singing prowess with a performance that conveyed a larger-than-life personality and an attitude that was part sassy and flirty, but all in playful, good fun.

L-R Mathis Picard & Lillias White. Courtesy of Tom Alvarez. Used with permission

Highlights of White’s show demonstrated her versatility for singing multiple genres. Her setlist, which featured Broadway, jazz, R&B, and rock songs, included “You’re My Best Friend,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” featuring an arrangement and phrasing like none I have ever heard from any other singer, the bluesy “Bread and Gravy,” and the jazzy “Shulie a Bop,” which illustrated her facility for scatting, which she will further demonstrate in her next album that pays tribute to Sarah Vaughn.

Picard maintained a dual focus on both the keys and White throughout their performance, portraying an intimate connection that was extraordinary in its synchronicity, all the while wearing a smile that was truly beguiling. Picard replaces White’s longtime music director-accompanist, the late Timothy Graphenreed who passed away on March 1, 2020. His performance provided ample evidence that he is more than a worthy successor to complement White’s inestimable talent.

A consummate entertainer, White is one of those performers who delivers the goods on all that can be expected from one who has starred in major musicals. As the pandemic winds down, her show just reinforced all the joy and exhilaration that only comes from seeing live entertainment starring a member of Broadway royalty.

 

 

 

photo: Julie Curry

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Indy Style, and is a creative arts reporter for Reel Life TV, an entertainment show also broadcast on WISH-TV.

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

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