Josephine Baker’s life has been played by Halle Berry on the big screen and next spring the legend will be brought to Broadway audiences by Deborah Cox.
Playbill is reporting that Cox has joined on to Josephine, the musical set to debut in Spring 2012. The project has been in the works for years but is finally getting off the ground says producer Kenneth Waissman:
“About 20 years ago Suzanne de Pass and Motown sent me an original copy of Josephine Baker’s biography, written by her manager. They wanted to option the biography for a Broadway musical starring Diana Ross. I said to Suzanne, I didn’t think Diana Ross would commit to 2 year contract, and ultimately she didn’t. 20 years later I am going through an old box and I re-read the biography and I saw how it could have life today as a Broadway show. And I said “Okay I’m gonna do this musical.”
Waissman says that Cox nailed her audition and was the clear choice for the role:
“She came in for the audition and walked in wearing a very Josephine Baker wig. By the end of the audition she had danced, she had sung, and she had acted, superbly. We all looked at each other and said, “she’s our Josephine.”
A natural performer with a booming voice, performing in front of theatre lovers every night won’t be new territory for Cox. The Toronto singer-songwriter known for her hits including “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” played the lead role in Aida during 2004.
According to previous press materials for the musical, Josephine is:
inspired by actual events, and takes place in Paris between 1939 and 1945: Josephine Baker is queen of the Paris music halls, involved in a liaison with Crown Prince Gustav VI of Sweden and secretly serving her adopted country in the French Resistance. Her heroic work during the war brings her the self-worth she so vainly sought in fame, money and the arms of royalty.
Baker’s life has been the subject of much exploration over the years. The jazz legend and St. Louis native found her fame in Europe and protested racism both abroad and within the United States.
Congrats to Mrs. Cox on her new role. I’m looking forward to opening night next spring for sure!