Every day is opening night.

Lillias White and Scott Wakefied Star in World Premiere of “Texas in Paris” at York Theatre Company

Rick Miramontez / Philip Carrubba

rick@oandmco.com   / philip@oandmco.com





“T E X A S   I N   P A R I S”




New York, NY – (December 8, 2014) – The York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director; Andrew Levine, Executive Director), dedicated to the development of new musicals and preserving musical gems from the past, in association with Everyday Songs, continues the 2014-2015 season with the world premiere of the new musical play, Texas in Paris, written by Alan Govenar with spirituals, cowboy songs and country hymns, starring Tony award-winner Lillias White (Fela, The Life) with Scott Wakefield (Hands on a Hardbody).  Akin Babatundé (Blind Lemon Blues) directs this two character play based on a true story.

Performances are set to begin Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. for a limited engagement through Sunday, March 1, 2015 at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s (entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue).  Opening Night is set for Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. 

The York Theatre Company continues to push the boundaries of musical theatre with this tapestry of regional American music. Based on true events, Texas in Paris is the musical journey of a man and a woman — one white, one black – invited to France to perform at the Maison des Cultures du Monde. They have never met, have no professional singing experience, and face the challenge of working together and co-existing in an unfamiliar world. Apprehensive of each other, they struggle with preconceptions but forge a surprising spiritual bond that transforms their on-stage performance and their lives.  Texas in Paris is a conversation about race between two people who never thought they would ever have that conversation. 

Texas in Paris is a metaphor for the dilemma of race that is currently dividing our nation, focusing on two people from the heartland, who like most Americans want to avoid talking about racism as an issue.  But once in Paris a dialogue emerges that could never have happened in their isolated worlds in the United States, stated playwright Alan Govenar.  He went on to add, “The music is a songbook of American life — everyday songs, lost and found, black and white, remembered and discovered as new.”  

James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director at The York added, “We’re delighted to be working with Alan and Akin again after our first successful collaboration on Blind Lemon Blues. It’s especially exciting that Alan has created such a meaningful new piece of musical theater — and that The York had a hand in developing it from the ground up over the last several years.”

Texas in Paris will play the following performance schedule:  Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday-Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. 

Now on sale, tickets for Texas in Paris are priced at $67.50 and may be purchased by calling (212) 935-5820, or in person at the box office at the York Theatre at Saint Peter’s (Citicorp Building, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue), Monday through Friday (12:00 -6:00 p.m.). 

York Theatre Company offers the 54th Street Membership Program, an exclusive membership package for as low as $54.00 – with elite benefits that includes a 30% discount on tickets to York Theatre Productions (2 per membership), exclusive member pre-sale opportunities, 50% off on all lobby concessions, 20% off on all lobby merchandise, in addition to special member only receptions.

York Memberships and single tickets can be purchased online at www.yorktheatre.org/membership, or by visiting the York Theatre Company Box Office (Citicorp Building, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue), or by calling the Box Office at (212) 935-5820 during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).

For additional information, please visit www.yorktheatre.org.




Lillias White (Osceola) is the quadruple-crown winner of the 1997-98 Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Friends of New York Award and the Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical for her performance as  Sonja in the Broadway musical, The Life.  Other Broadway credits include Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti in Fela!(Tony Award nomination), Jonesy in How to Succeed in Business, Grizzabella in Cats, Asaka in Once On The Island, Joice Heth in Barnum, Aretha Franklin in Rock-In-RollThe First 5,000 Years, and Effie Melody White in Dreamgirls (20th anniversary concert recording available on Nonesuch records).   Off Broadway, Lillias was recently seen as Gertrude in Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live at Primary Stages, and has been seen as Queen Zauba in The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea,  Hennie in Romance in Hard Times (Cobie Award), Velma in Crowns (Audelco Award), and most recently, Obatala in Obatala King of the White Cloth by David Wright, performed at the Riverside Church, NYC.   On TV, Lillias appeared on various PBS specials from “Great Performances with the Boston Pops” to “In Performance at The White House,” as well as on “NYPD Blue” and “Law & Order.” She spent four seasons as Lillian Edwards on “Sesame Street,” where she obtained an Emmy Award, and also filmed an episode of “The Jury” on Fox TV.   Film credits include Cop#1 in Gloria with Jim Carey and Sharon Stone;  the voice of the lead muse in Disney’s animated Hercules;  and as Yvette the #1 neighbor in Pieces of April with an all-star cast that inclueded Katie Holmes and Derek Luke.  Lillias has performed live at Lincoln Center, Arci’s Place, Central Park, Symphony Space, Carnegie Hall and many other venues worldwide. Her recording “From Brooklyn to Broadway” is available at Colony Records in NYC.


Scott Wakefield (John) has appeared on Broadway in Hands on a Hardbody, Ring of Fire, and It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. His Off Broadway credits include The Joy Luck Club, The American Clock, Howling at the Moon, and Still Getting My Act Together. His regional performances include Millet in Fuddy Meers, Camille in A Flea in Her Ear, Victor in The Price, Kruger in The Front Page, Tom in The Glass Menagerie, Louis DeRougemont in Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, Michael in Dancing at Lughnasa, and others at such prestigious venues as Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Alliance Theatre. Wakefield garnered three Best Actor awards for his portrayal of Will Rogers in The Will Rogers Follies and another Best Actor award for playing Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Wakefield has written and produced two CDs of original music: Older Than Dirt and Vegetarian Nightmare.


Akin Babatundé (Director) is an accomplished actor, director, and writer whose theatrical career spans Broadway, regional theatre, film and television. He has been a resident company member of prestigious theatrical institutions throughout the country: Trinity Rep (Providence, R.I.), Alley Theater (Houston, TX), La Mama Theater (NY City) and the Dallas Theater Center. He is founder and artistic director of Vivid Theater Ensemble of Dallas and founder of Ebony Emeralds Classic Theater Company.  Babatundé was the first African-American to direct for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival in the celebrated diverse production of Taming of the Shrew in 1993.  As a writer, his work has been commissioned by Florida Stage, La Mama Theater, the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Brown University, the Black Academy of Arts and the and Core Ensemble. His work Shakespeare – Midnight Echoes tours in Texas paying homage to black performing artists who performed Shakespeare from slavery to the present. He has toured extensively with Core Ensemble in Of Ebony Embers – Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance. His one-man show, Before the Second Set – A Visit with Satchmo has received critical acclaim at theaters across the country. Babatundé starred in Blind Lemon Blues, which he co-wrote with Alan Govenar. Television appearances include “Law and Order” and “Wishbone,” the PBS literary show for children.  Babatundé is a renowned arts educator, having undertaken five long-term artist residencies in underserved communities in Florida, creating new music theatre works alongside at-risk teens and community members. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Arts and Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas.


Alan Govenar (Playwright) is a writer, folklorist, photographer and filmmaker. He is the director of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded in 1985 to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of twenty-seven books, including Everyday Music, Untold Glory: African Americans in Pursuit of Freedom, Opportunity and Achievement, Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound, Lightnin’ Hopkins: His Life and Blues, Stompin’ at the Savoy, Jasper, Texas: The Community Photographs of Alonzo Jordan, and Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas. His book Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter won First Place in the New York Book Festival (Children’s Non-Fiction), a Boston Globe–Hornbook Honor, and an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English.  Govenar’s film Stoney Knows How about Old School tattoo artist Leonard St. Clair, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. Govenar has also produced and directed numerous films in association with NOVA, PBS, and La Sept/ARTE. His most recent feature-length documentaries, The Beat Hotel, Master Qi and the Monkey King, and You Don’t Need Feet To Dance are distributed by First Run Features. Govenar and Akin Babatundé created the musical Blind Lemon Blues, which was presented in its world premiere at the Forum Meyrin in Geneva and the Maison des Cultures du Monde in Paris, and was staged at the York Theatre in 2007 and 2009.


The York Theatre Company is the only theater in New York City—and one of very few in the world—dedicated to developing and fully producing new musicals and preserving neglected, notable shows from the past. For over four decades, York’s intimate, imaginative style of producing both original and neglected classic musicals has resulted in critical acclaim and recognition from artists and audiences alike. Under the guidance of Producing Artistic Director James Morgan since 1997, the York has focused exclusively on new musicals in its Mainstage Series—most of them world, American, or New York premieres—by some of the field’s most esteemed creators, and has also helped launch the careers of many talented new writers. Over 35 cast recordings from The York Theatre Company productions are now available on CD, and commercial transfers of such York premieres as The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)SouvenirJolson & Company, and its acclaimed revivals of Closer Than Ever (2013 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Revival), Sweeney Todd and Pacific Overtures have all showcased the importance of the York and its programs.


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