When you hear the name Josephine Baker, a few things come to people’s mind, such as banana, dance or french ingenue. However, she was so much more than something pretty for people to gawk at. The actress, singer, dancer broke barriers and blurred color lines with her success overseas becoming one of the most decorated entertainers of her time. With a story like that, this show can’t just be done small scale. “You have to really visualize, you really have to see—you have to be in the room. It deserves a Broadway stage,” says Deborah Cox, the Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling recording singer/actress embodying Josephine Baker in Asolo Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of the new musical Josephine. “She is one of our icons and that deserves recognition.”
The new musical revolves around Baker’s stint as the star of the Folies-Bergere in Paris from 1939-45, her scandalous affair with Swedish Crown Prince Gustav IV, and her service in the French Resistance during World War II. Featuring a book by Ellen Weston and Mark Hampton; music by Stephen Dorff; and lyrics by Emmy Award winner John Bettis, with direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely.
Photo by Paul Tate dePoo III