Kevin Earley & More to Join Deborah Cox in World Premiere of JOSEPHINE at Asolo Rep; Full Cast Set

Asolo Rep will present the world premiere of the Broadway-bound new musical: JOSEPHINE. Previews for JOSEPHINE begin April 27, press opening night is Friday, May 6 at 8pm, and the musical runs through Sunday, May 29 in the Mertz Theatre, located in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.

Chronicling a dynamic chapter in the life of the legendary African-American performer Josephine Baker, from 1939-1945, this exquisite new musical stars Grammy nominated, multi-talented, multi-platinum selling recording artist Deborah Cox, who recently provided the vocals for the Whitney Houston Lifetime movie Whitney. Ms. Cox starred on Broadway in the title role of Aida and as the female lead in the recent revival of Jekyll & Hyde.

Asolo Rep is producing JOSEPHINE in collaboration with two-time Tony Award- winner Kenneth Waissman, who developed and produced the original Broadway production of Grease and is one of only two producers in the history of Broadway to have a musical run over 3,000 performances and a play run over 1,000. JOSEPHINE will be directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely, who directed and choreographed Asolo Rep's record-breaking, critically acclaimed 2015 production of West Side Story. JOSEPHINE 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.

Inspired by Stephen Papich's book "Remembering Josephine," the musical revolves around Baker's stint as the star of the Folies Bergère in Paris between 1939-45, her scandalous affair with Swedish Crown Prince Gustav VI, and her heroic service in the French Resistance during World War II. She was hailed as the "Black Pearl." Picasso dubbed her the "Nefertiti of Now." Ernest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." The entrancing Josephine Baker was beautiful, ambitious, and the toast of Europe at the height of her fame in the 1920s-30s. Born into poverty in St. Louis, she rose to become an icon of the Jazz Age, captivating Paris audiences as a dancer, singer, actress and the twentieth-century's first international black female sex symbol.

Broadway, television and film actor Kevin Earley stars alongside Ms. Cox as Jo Boullion, Josephine Baker's band conductor and love interest. Mr. Earley's Broadway and National Tour credits include LES MISERABLES, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and A Tale of Two Cities. Mr. Earley received a Drama Desk nomination for the title role in Death Takes a Holiday, an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for 1776, and a Joseph Jefferson Award for Assassins. Mark Campbell will portray Josephine Baker's forbidden lover, Prince Gustav VI of Sweden. Mr. Campbell created the role of the Phantom for the 25th Anniversary Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. He can also be seen on the Fox show Sleepy Hollow as George Washington.

"We are excited to present the world premiere of this extraordinary original musical, brimming with unparalleled Broadway talent," said Asolo Rep 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," said 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."

"I am so excited about this production of JOSEPHINE where I play Josephine Baker," said Deborah Cox. "I've been working on this incredible project for several years and now it's time to present it. I can't wait for everyone to experience what is only the tip of the iceberg of a true icon. There is so much about Josephine Baker that I'm still discovering and yet the little that I do know is more than most of us would be able to achieve in a couple of lifetimes."

"JOSEPHINE the musical will be every bit as sensational as Josephine Baker the woman was - glamorous, provocative, sexy and heartwarming," said Director/Choreographer Joey McKneely. "It's a spectacular singing and dancing show to raise the roof and have people talking for decades, just as Josephine Baker would have done herself. It brings me so much joy to finally bring her amazing story to the stage for all to enjoy!"

JOSEPHINE contains adult language and brief nudity. It may not be appropriate for younger audiences.


CAST
(In order of appearance)

Deborah Cox*................................................................Josephine Baker

Matthew McGee*...........................................................................Joujou

Kevin Earley*..........................................................................Jo Bouillon

Ruth Schaulis...............................................................Female Ensemble

Timothy J. Fitzgerald.........................................................Male Ensemble

Mark Campbell*............................Prince Gustav VI of Sweden/Herr Goering

Lynette DuPree*........................................................................Bricktop

Michael Keyloun*...........................................................................Sven

Tori Bates...................................................................Young Josephine

Naomi C. Walley*................................................Mama/Female Ensemble

Alison Mixon*................................................................Female Ensemble

Elyse Collier*...............................................................Female Ensemble

Laura Keller*................................................................Female Ensemble

Jelani Alladin*..................................................................Male Ensemble

Zach Williams*.................................................................Male Ensemble

Julian Ramos*..................................................................Male Ensemble

Dillon Cassidy.................................................................Male Ensemble

*Members of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


SELECTED CREATIVE TEAM MEMBERS

Director/Choreographer..............................................................Joey McKneely

Librettists ...........................................................Ellen Weston & Mark Hampton

Composer.....................................................................................Stephen Dorff

Lyricist.............................................................................................John Bettis

Orchestrator, Arranger & Musical Supervisor...................................Steve Orich

Music Director & Vocal Arranger...................................................Donald Chan

Scenic Designer..................................................................Paul Tate dePoo III

Costume Designer................................................................Eduardo Sicangco

Lighting Designer...........................................................................Brian Nason

Sound Designer............................................................................Justin Stasiw

Projection Designer................................................................ Alex Basco Koch

Hair/Wig & Make-Up Designer......................................................Michelle Hart

Voice & Dialect Coach...............................................................Patricia Delorey


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