Josephine Baker, The Dark Star From Harlem and me.
In 1989 I was commissioned to create something about the legendary Josephine Baker at the world famous LaMama Experimental Theater, in New York City. How cool. How perfect. An experimental theater production. That means I’ll be free to create whatever I want, the way I want it. The vision is mine. So I put together a forty-five minute play with music called, THE DARK FROM FROM HARLEM (A tribute to Josephine Baker). That show was well received and we were invited back the next year to present a more complete production.
What an adventure! Along with Mario E. Sprouse as the musical director and composer, Kim Grier, the choreographer and Raymond Pizarro designing our costumes, we created a funny, yet compelling, seventy minute, one act musical. THE DARK STAR FROM HARLEM (A musical tribute to Josephine Baker). This time with a few original songs to help drive the story, using both live music on the piano (played by Mario) and there was some recorded music as well. Our three week run packed the house nightly while receiving several enthusiastic standing ovations. We also received a rave review from Jerry Tallmer of the New York Post. October 2, 1990.
“On the face of it, an impossible, a terrible idea: to simulate on a New York stage in 1990 the Josephine Baker who was the rage of le tout Paris in the 1920’s. Josephine Baker, the one and only. But dear God, what a wonderful show is “The Dark Star From Harlem”, at LaMama E.T.C. Any sane producer in his right mind would whip it up to Broadway before I can finish this sentence.”
In 1992, we thought we had found that producer. He was able to get us booked in Pierre Cardin’s, L’Omnibus de Maxims. Unfortunately that production did not work as well as we had all hoped. My team and I were heartbroken and we were forced to take a break. So we hugged one another and moved on with our lives. And our careers. But Josephine remained in our hearts. We vowed to return one day bigger and better.
In 1994, I reinvented myself for my new career at The Late Show. (Please see my bio.) Then twenty-two years happened.
In 2014, my creative partner, Mario and I decided it was time to breathe new life into THE DARK STAR FROM HARLEM. So we began to meet and we created new songs for the show. Mario wrote the lyrics and music while I did a lot of work re-writing the book.
We are now poised to revive and reboot our show. Both Kim and Raymond have returned and we’ve got the band back together, man! That seven character musical with a simple piano now has thirteen characters and seven musicians. We expect two hours in two acts. We are still growing. Still learning. Still expanding.
So after retirement, my new adventure begins! Reinventing myself with my original self. Once again, Josephine Baker is back in my life. I love Josephine Baker. We all do. And we want to share her with the world. Our way.
We will soon ask our friends to take this long and exciting journey with us. You gotta be ready when time shines your light.