Josephine and I OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    February 27, 2015
    Closing:
    April 5, 2015

    Theater: Public Theater / Delacorte Theater in Central Park, New York, NY,

    Synopsis: 

    Following a critically acclaimed run at London’s Bush Theatre, Olivier nominated actress and writer CUSH JUMBO (The River, Julius Caesar, "Getting On") brings her “tour de force” (Times) one-woman show JOSEPHINE AND I to The Public. Born into poverty in the slums of St. Louis, Josephine Baker became one of the most famous and groundbreaking stars of the 20th century. The first African-American performer to rise to international prominence, she was a French Resistance spy and civil rights activist who was married twice by age 16 and served as muse to Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, who called her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” Now, nearly forty years after her death, Baker’s life inspires a young woman to face up to the sacrifices required to follow one’s dreams. A “dazzling, exhilarating” (The Guardian) performance featuring swinging jazz and ragtime rhythms, this theatrical event directed by Tony nominee PHYLLIDA LLOYD (Julius Caesar, Mary Stuart, The Iron Lady, Mamma Mia!) interweaves a modern day story of an ambitious young woman with the fascinating life of the peerless, fearless Josephine Baker.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Josephine and I

    ‘Josephine and I,’ a Tribute Show by Cush Jumbo

    Ben Brantley

    March 10, 2015: When Cush Jumbo says she has fire inside her, you have no reason to doubt it. Portraying both title characters in “Josephine and I,” which opened on Tuesday night at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, Ms. Jumbo projects the kind of five-alarm charm that threatens to set rooms ablaze. Seen earlier this season opposite Hugh Jackman in “The River” on Broadway, this British actress radiates that unquantifiable force of hunger, drive and talent usually called star power. And as wielded by Ms. Jumbo, it removes the last chill from this overextended winter. Star power is the subject and essence of “Josephine and I,” a sort of dual musical bio-drama written by Ms. Jumbo and staged by Phyllida Lloyd, who directed her in the excellent all-female Donmar Warehouse production of “Julius Caesar.” Josephine is Josephine Baker, the boundary-crossing, Paris-conquering, African-American chanteuse who was an international star for half the 20th century. The “I” is a character identified in the program as Girl, a British actress on the rise who seems to have a fair amount in common with Ms. Jumbo. And also with Miss Baker, whose heights of celebrity the Girl aspires to, though not without ambivalence. Fame: You can’t live with it, but for some people the thought of living without it is definitely cause for depression.

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