The Asolo Repertory Theatre announced today the world premiere of “Josephine,” an original Broadway-bound musical, which will debut in April, and run through Sunday, May 29.
The musical will chronicle a dynamic chapter in the life of the legendary African American performer, Josephine Baker, from 1939-1945, and will star singer Deborah Cox, who recently provided the vocals for the Whitney Houston Lifetime movie: “Whitney.” Her stage credits include starring on Broadway in the title role in “Aida,” and as the female lead in the recent revival of “Jekyll & Hyde.”
“Josephine” will be produced by Asolo Theatre, and veteran 2-time Tony Award-winner Kenneth Waissman (“Grease”). Waissman produced a Broadway workshop for JOSEPHINE in May and June 2011, which also featured Cox as the iconic leading lady.
The musical will be directed and choreographed by 2-time Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely (West Side Story), with a book by Ellen Weston and Mark Hampton, and an original score composed by 5-time Emmy Award-nominee and 3-time Grammy Award-nominee Stephen Dorff, with lyrics by Academy Award, Grammy, and Golden Globe-nominee and 2-time Emmy Award-winner John Bettis.
With that team, and all those credits and accolades, Cox and the musical should be in good hands here. When this eventually gets to Broadway, Cox might be up for a Tony Award herself.
More from the press release…
Inspired by Stephen Papich’s book “Remembering Josephine,” the musical revolves around Baker’s stint as the star of the Folies Bergere in Paris between 1939-45, her scandalous affair with Swedish Crown Prince Gustav VI, and her heroic service in the French Resistance during World War II. She was hailed as the “Black Pearl.” Picasso dubbed her the “Nefertiti of Now.” Ernest Hemingway called her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” The entrancing Josephine Baker was beautiful, ambitious, and the toast of Europe at the height of her fame in the 1920s-30s. Born into poverty in St. Louis, she rose to become an icon of the Jazz Age, captivating Paris audiences as a dancer, singer, actress and the twentieth-century’s first international black female sex symbol.
“We are excited to present the world premiere of this extraordinary original musical, brimming with unparalleled Broadway talent,” said Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards. “JOSEPHINE vividly brings to life the story of a beloved American icon – one of the most magnetic and fascinating women in history. This celebration ofJosephine Baker is a remarkably evocative work of art and a brilliant addition to our five-year American Character Project.”
“For a number of years, I had been intrigued with the idea of recreating the glamorous and exotic world of Josephine Baker in a stage musical,” said Kenneth Waissman. “She was a larger than life African-American expatriate who transcended her color, her gender and her times. Her exotic looks, fabulous gowns and feathered headdresses, her obsession with her royal lover and her life-risking exploits in the French underground during WWII provide the sex, romance and intrigue of this original new musical. I’m thrilled to be working with Asolo Repertory Theatre on the world premiere of this Broadway-bound dream.”