About the show
JOSEPHINE – a musical tribute
How would Josephine Baker herself react to a musical about her life?
The answer to this she has given herself. In the sixties existed the idea to produce a ‘Josephine-musical’ on Broadway.
Josephine Baker was approached for the title role. She shook her head and answered: “I feel very flattered but much too old now, cast a younger woman for the part and let me enjoy the show from the stalls.”
Josephine was a woman for whom one, after learning more about her, gets a lot of respect. She was an interesting theatre personality who broke a lot of new ground.
Everyone of the creative team had the intention to make this a worthy tribute to Josephine Baker. From the start of the preparations she came to life more and more, and the picture of the women behind the theatre star became clearer every moment. Not everybody knows how she, apart from her work in the theatre, fought for human rights and against discrimination. She was a woman who believed in her ideal: a world of peace and harmony. She founded her rainbow-family with which she lived at the fairy tail castle Les Milandes in the Dordogne. Unfortunately this dream became her downfall.
“Josephine was not very realistic”, say those who knew her well. This happens a lot with men and women who are obsessed by an ideal and thus lose all site of reality. Josephine Baker got totally absorbed in her dreams about a better world, that she didn’t notice her own world falling apart. The ideals from the poor girl from St. Louis, in her youth already confronted with racial riots, caused for a major part her downfall. Despite all setbacks she was always faithful to the promise she made in her youth, to change the world. For that she sacrificed everything, even her health.
She was applauded and abused.
Even at the peak of her fame she was menaced and humiliated in her native country. Hotels in America wouldn’t accept her because of her skin colour, and that hurt. She sang about her two loves: America and France, in the immortal J’ai Deux Amours, but her first love turned her back on her constantly.
She felt happier in France than in her native country. In Europe she was accepted and could she develop her talent to the full. That is maybe why a musical about her life was supposed to open in Europe.
World première: 19 September 1991