July 21 marks the birthday of Tony Award winner Lillias White, known for performances in Fela!, Romance in Hard Times, Cats, Carrie, Once on This Island, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Chicago. To celebrate, Playbill is taking a look back at the performance that earned her the 1997 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical—as Sonja in Cy Coleman's musical The Life.
Featuring music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Ira Gasman, and book by Coleman, Gasman, and David Newman, The Life musicalizes the lives of 1980s Times Square prostitutes, including Queen, who is hoping to escape; the cynical Sonja; and their menacing pimp, Memphis.
The musical opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre April 26, 1997 after beginning preview performances April 8. Directed by Michael Blakemore with choreography by Joey McKneely, the production played 21 previews and 466 performances before closing June 7, 1998, earning 12 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical.
In addition to White as Sonja, the musical starred Pamela Isaacs as Queen, Kevin Ramsey as Fleetwood, Sam Harris as Jojo, Chuck Cooper as Jojo, Bellamy Young as Mary, Vernel Bargneris as Lacy, Rich Hebert as Lou, and Gordon Joseph Weiss as Snickers. Roudning out the cast were Mark Bove, Felicia Finley, Chris Ghelfi, Michael Gregory Gong, Katy Grenfell, Stephanie Michels, Judine Rich, Rudy Roberson, Lynn Sterling, Mark Anthony Taylor, and Sharon Wilkins.
The Life featured scenic design by Robin Wagner, costume design by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting design by Richard Pilbrow, and sound design by Peter Fitzgerald with stage management by Àra Marx and Rolt Smith. For the complete cast and creative team, visit PlaybillVault.com/TheLife.