Deborah Cox, who provided the vocals for the Whitney Houston Lifetime movie "Whitney," will star as the legendary African-American performer Josephine Baker. Cox has been see on Broadway in the title role of Aida and in the recent revival of Jekyll & Hyde.
Josephine will be directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely.
The new musical, which is billed as "Broadway-bound," features a book by Ellen Weston and Mark Hampton and an original score composed by five-time Emmy Award nominee and three-time Grammy Award nominee Stephen Dorff with lyrics by Academy Award, Grammy and Golden Globe nominee and two-time Emmy Award winner John Bettis. NoBroadway dates or theatre have been announced.
Inspired by Stephen Papich’s book “Remembering Josephine,” the musical, according to press notes, "revolves around Baker’s stint as the star of the Folies Bergere in Paris 1939-45, her scandalous affair with Swedish Crown Prince Gustav VI, and her heroic service in the French Resistance during World War II." "We are excited to present the world premiere of this extraordinary original musical, brimming with unparalleled Broadway talent," stated 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 of Josephine 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," added 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."
Timing of the production is coincidental with Cush Jumbo's Josephine and I at the Public Theatre in New York, which touches on the same story.
Asolo Rep's complete 2015-16 season will be announced March 16. Asolo Rep is located at 5555 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. For more information visit www.asolorep.org.