Posted on March 24, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Here’s how it works: At about four in the afternoon on a relentlessly rainy late winter day, your doorbell rings and you open the front door so your dog can jump on whoever has just arrived, which means your overeager goldendoodle is now clambering all over one of the First Ladies of the American Musical Theatre, the glamorous, glorious, glowing Lillias White, who has come to your apartment so she can learn (among other things) the song you wrote for her nine years ago that she’s never even heard until now.

And there you are with one of the greatest singers on Earth, picking out material, telling stories, reminiscing about the show you did together in 1998 (Dinah Was was the name of it – here’s video of her performing a song from it on The Rosie O’Donnell Show – and let me tell you, there were some personalities on board that train), drinking coffee with honey in it (you’ll have to ask Lillias about that), remembering some good souls long gone, and letting the music flow.

Much of that music is by her old friend and your inspiration, the endlessly inventive and versatile and virtuosic Cy Coleman, with whom she worked on the show that got her a Tony Award, The Life. You both have so much fun playing Cy’s songs that you decide you have to do a lot of it in your show.

Couple of weeks later, you show up for rehearsal with your band, and two hours in, there she appears, joyful, generous, and ready to make some serious sound, pulling along a suitcase full of some charts she just found that morning that she thinks might be fun to try out.

8 pm, the house is full, the band is onstage, and off you go, giving this magnificent performer all the room she needs to make magic, and along the way pushing yourself and your band to the limit, with different styles, different sounds, new songs, new arrangements of old songs, like you’re compressing the entire four years of SubCulture shows into ninety blazing minutes.

She sings four of Cy’s songs, tells stories of standing on her grandmother’s coffee table in Brooklyn when she was four years old to sing for the whole family, offers one of the songs from The Life that she didn’t get to sing, cracks up the crowd (and the band) with Bea Singer’s big number from Honeymoon In Vegas, shines with your Dinah Washington tribute from The Bridges of Madison County, and finally – magically, heartbreakingly, triumphantly – sings “All Things In Time,” which you’ve been waiting to hear her do since the day you wrote it in 2010 after seeing her do a show in Ventura.

Along the way, you premiere a new song from The Connector, and as a tribute to your longtime producer and wonderful friend Jeffrey Lesser, you resurrect a gorgeous Rupert Holmes song that Jeffrey actually produced on its original recording in 1974.

So that’s how it works: dream come true, bucket list item checked off, can’t wait to do it again.

Then, dammit, you eat a lot of cookies! (Thanks Jose!)

Break Me Blues (2012)
Everybody Knows from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Lillias: Get Closer from The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
Lillias: He’s No Good (music by Cy Coleman, lyric by Ira Gasman, from The Life, 1990)
Lillias: I Walk A Little Faster (music by Cy Coleman, lyric by Carolyn Leigh, 1958)
Lillias: Never Get Married from Honeymoon In Vegas (2014)
Studio Musician (music and lyric by Rupert Holmes, 1975)
Hallowed Ground from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Success from The Connector (2019)
Lillias: Skylark (music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyric by Johnny Mercer, 1941)
Lillias: Why Try To Change Me Now (music by Cy Coleman, lyric by Joseph McCarthy, Jr., 1952)
Lillias: All Things In Time from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Wait ‘Til You See What’s Next from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Melinda from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Encore: Lillias: It Started With A Dream (music by Cy Coleman, lyric by David Zippel, from Pamela’s First Musical, 2001)

JRB: piano, vocals
Lillias White: vocals
Jamie Eblen: drums
Randy Landau: bass
Todd Reynolds: violin
Gary Sieger: guitar

Next SubCulture show: April 22! Guest to be announced.
Meanwhile: March 31 in London at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with the great Rachel Tucker, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Tyrone Huntley!
And then, on April 11, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC with Tony Award-winning Lindsay Mendez!

Credits:

Amazing photos, as always, by Erika Kapin Photography.