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BWW Interview: Tymisha Harris in JOSEPHINE: A BURLESQUE CABARET DREAM PLAY, Outdoors at The Morris Museum on 9/17 and 9/18

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JOSEPHINE at Morris Museum

BWW Interview: Tymisha Harris in JOSEPHINE: A BURLESQUE CABARET DREAM PLAY, Outdoors at The Morris Museum on 9/17 and 9/18

Josephine: A Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play, is a one-woman musical biographical play about the iconic Josephine Baker. It will will be performed on the Morris Museum's Back Deck, Thursday, September 17th and Friday, September 18th at 7:00 pm. The show continues the venue's season of socially distant performance. Josephine, which has won awards at festivals across the US and Canada, was created by Tymisha Harris, Michael Marinaccio and Tod Kimbro, with Book and Musical Direction by Tod Kimbro. Tymisha Harris portrays Josephine Baker.

Josephine is a biographical musical that combines cabaret, theatre and dance to tell the story of the iconic Josephine Baker, the first African-American international superstar and one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. Before Diana, Whitney and Beyonce, there was Josephine, a fearless pioneer who blazed a glamorous trail for all women of color.

Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Tymisha Harris. She is the sole performer and also the Costume Designer and Choreographer for Josephine.

Tymisha Harris (aka "Tush") has been performing professionally for over 20 years. Her early credits include assistant choreographer and backup dancing for the 90's pop group N*SYNC, backup dancer for LFO, multiple roles at Universal Studios Orlando, and a featured role in the hit movie series Bring It On. More recent endeavors include the national tour of Rock of Ages, a European tour with the innovative and world-renowned Pilobulus Dance Theater Company, and founding member and Assistant Director/Choreographer of the successful Orlando based troupe, VarieTease.

What was your earliest interest in dance and the performing arts?

When I was four years old I went with my mom to ballet class at Barbara Driscoll Studio in El Paso, Texas. While my mom took classes, I played in the costume room. Between the costumes and my playtime and the dance and the music, it opened up a world of imagination for me. I saw adults get lost in it and I thought "I could get lost in that too."

Can you share a little information about your professional training?

I didn't go to college, so most of my training was at the school of hard knocks. I did train at a few different dance studios in El Paso Texas before moving to Florida and starting my career at the age of 20.

What have been some of your memorable roles in the past?

I have done and loved so many, it's hard to narrow it down. I worked at Universal Studios Florida for nearly 20 years and performed many roles there, but my favorite was playing Cleo in the Beetlejuice Rock and Roll Graveyard Review. I also loved being a puppeteer for Heather Henson and her company Ibex Puppetry, which I have done for over a decade now.

The upcoming show, Josephine shares the remarkable story of Josephine Baker. What are some of the challenges of your role as Josephine?

I have a hard time crossing my eyes like she does. Fitting into the costumes after a pandemic is also pretty tough. Seriously though, hardest thing is carrying the weight of the responsibility of telling this remarkable woman's story. She was such an extraordinary human being, and I just want to make sure I honor that with every performance.

How have you had to adapt to creating and performing during Covid-19?

So far, all of our performances have been online from our home in Orlando Florida. It's been a huge adjustment as we spent nearly half of 2019 on the road touring with the show. We have been lucky to get most of our gigs from this year rescheduled for next year. But in the meantime, it's been very difficult performing online to a camera with unpredictable internet. It is definitely not as powerful or glamorous as the live theater experience.

We'd love to know about your work with Director and Producer, Michael Marinaccio.

Without his help I would probably still be struggling as an artist, working every gig I could to make due and running on that hamster wheel. Michael has an uncanny ability to visualize and manifest projects and futures for artists like me. He is someone who has been an Actor, Director and Producer, so he understands all aspects of live performing arts. He was the driving force behind creating this show, and has been my partner in it and life for the last 5 years.

Why do you think this is an ideal time to present Josephine.

Since we started doing show in 2016, it has felt incredibly relevant to the time that we are in. America and the world is now not only open to but hungry for the voices of women, especially women of color. Josephine's story is one of the most remarkable of any human being of the 20th century, but the lessons of her life seem more relevant now than ever.

Can you share any of your plans for the future?

We are currently working on with the follow up production to Josephine. It is the story of Josephine Baker's friendship with Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. We are hoping to debut it's early in 2021 and tour it in tandem with Josephine for the foreseeable future.

About the Morris Museum Deck Performance Series:

The Performance Series has given eager audiences a chance to see live performances. The Morris Museum transformed its upper parking deck into a socially distant performance space consisting of 119 blocks, 8'X8' each, able to accommodate two patrons. In their recent review of the JACK String Quartet,

Tickets: All blocks are $60 for an 8'x8′ block which accommodates up to 2 patrons. Patrons are welcome to arrive as early as 5:30PM to set up and enjoy the evening sun. Recommended for ages 16 and up. To purchase tickets over the phone, call the box office at 973-971-3706. Click here to purchase tickets online.

Tickets must be ordered in advance by phone or online only. The rain date decision will be made by 12:00pm day of the event. Bring Your Own Chairs! Chairs will not be provided. For more information, please visit: https://morrismuseum.org/.

Photo Credit: Roberto Gonzalez



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From This Author Marina Kennedy