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Josephine: A Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play

Members say: Entertaining, Great singing, Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting

About the show

This solo show explores the life of international superstar Josephine Baker through theater, song, and burlesque. 

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Born in St. Louis in 1906, Josephine Baker achieved only moderate success in the United States, but became an international superstar after moving to France in the early 20s. Her adopted country gave her the opportunity to live freely without the racial oppression of her home nation, though she never stopped yearning for acceptance in America. Written for and performed by Tymisha Harris, 'Josephine: A Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play' won "Best Show" and "Outstanding Solo Performance" at the 2016 San Diego Fringe Festival and "Production of the Year" at last fall's Fringe Encore Series at the Soho Playhouse.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Lighting & Sound America

"Harris, a skillful performer, offers a pretty fair version of that banana dance and capably handles a song list...Still, Baker was a far more complicated woman than the show presents...'Josephine' has definite audience-pleasing aspects, including a couple of sequences in which she enlists audience members as lovers or fans, but its elaborate title seems to hint at broader, as-yet-unrealized, ambitions...Currently, 'Josephine' works best as a brief introduction to its subject." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Harris brings Baker to life with an exhilarating energy that flies off the stage and into the audience. Part of that continuance from stage to audience, has to do with the Marinaccio’s direction and book writer/musical director Kimbro. All three of these multi-talented artists created the show 'Josephine Baker'...Through Ms. Harris’s emotionally stirring performance, we see the woman who captured countless lovers, 5 husbands, and adopted a tribe of 12 rainbow children." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"They mostly succeed in telling the thrilling details of her life story...The only thing missing to this presentation is a more refined production, which could turn this fun play into something far more powerful and electric...Harris as Josephine is delicious and layered...I only wish in her edgy and energetic performance that she would slow down a bit...The script is also in need of some tightening in order to bring the greater umbrella of meaning to a sharper focus." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Harris is attractive and full of personality. She’s beautifully dressed, moves well, and sings with feeling...You won’t gain any insight into the artist and omissions run in Baker’s favor, but presented facts are, at least, facts...Intermittent, Fanny Brice-like mugging does neither Baker nor the show any favors...The play is not without entertainment value if you lower your standards and know little or nothing about Baker. Its parts simply don’t make a polished whole." Full Review


“Subtitled ‘a burlesque cabaret dream play,’ ‘Josephine’ is more. It is a full-fledged musical with grit, sex, color and ebullient dancing, all supplied by the remarkable Tymisha Harris who gushes with love and truth about her subject, the legendary Josephine Baker...The main event, however, is the performance of Harris who doesn't just imitate Baker but uses her own gifts to illuminate she returns the favor with her vivid singing, unabashed dancing and direct connection with the audience.” Full Review


"A story made for show business...It is the show's eye-catching star, Harris, who evokes Josephine's look and provocative spirit...Harris puts all she has into rounding out the sketchy portrait of Josephine, intensely emotional and farcically comical. With a husky, expressive voice, blithe nudity and a captivating demeanor, she reaches into the audience, flirting with both men and women...Much more can and has been written about Josephine Baker than this 75-minute piece." Full Review

Theater Life

"With self-effacing good humor, Harris recounts the story behind Baker's numerous husbands and lovers...Harris becomes serious when the story turns to Baker's activism in the Civil Rights Movement. Her interpretation of...'The Times They Are A Changin' is breathtaking...Harris's rich and powerful voice is far superior to Baker's...She's also sexy in a way that's most probably far more effective for modern audiences. One likes to think Baker would have respected...and appreciated the tribute." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

"Harris meticulously crafted a performance that makes her voice, body, and overall person scream, 'Josephine!', which in others words means, 'Star!'...Harris is literally gold on stage. She is incredibly charming and sweet...Harris makes you laugh, cry, get angry, and get protective over Baker. She uses music and dance only to further the spiritual highness of Josephine, as a human being whom uncannily brought joy from her desire to absorb it." Full Review

Nitelife Exchange

"Harris has singing and dancing chops galore...Harris plays Baker mostly with a breathless urgency and an underlay of naivete. The interpretation is a valid actor's choice, but a few more layers of depth would not go amiss...Her rendition of 'The Times They Are A-Changin'...was masterful and memorable...A worthy piece of theater. It's a solid, entertaining production. With a few refinements it could be considerably more than it is, and that would be très magnifique." Full Review

Stage Biz

"Probably the closest to an evening with Josephine Baker as one will ever experience...What makes this telling of the story so powerful is that Harris can act, sing, and dance. Because she is a world-class triple-threat, Harris brings Baker back for us...She is riveting...Through all of this, Harris is almost perfectly in the moment every moment...I suspect Baker would be pleased with her portrayal and very proud of the younger performer." Full Review

Plays to See

"If you enjoy smart, quality burlesque, you should go see 'Josephine'...The triple threat actress Tymisha Harris brings back true star power in her solo show...Tymisha’s vocals are smooth and rich, her dance is sensually athletic yet authentic to the time period, and she brings a joy and innocent courage to this firecracker woman...Truly a show of what a small multi-hyphenate team can accomplish." Full Review

Orlando Sentinel

for a previous production “To play a woman that fabulous requires one mesmerizing performer. In Tymisha Harris, the engaging, involving ‘Josephine’ has just that…She’s an expressive dancer and a strong, emotional singer...Her greatest strength is her ability to convey the mix of nervousness and fearlessness that fueled Baker’s life…The cabaret concept is one of the show’s strongest elements…Kimbro’s script is a fully realized story, though I would have liked a few more concrete details added to the mix.” Full Review

San Diego Union-Tribune

for a previous production “Harris is a magnetic performer, strong singer and high-powered dancer, who brings to life Baker’s trademark African banana dance, as well as numerous 20th century hit songs by Billie Holiday and others...Harris’ script is faithful to facts, but it still bears the marks of a work in progress and could use some tightening. Baker was free with her body, and so is Harris, who performs a portion of the show in a G-string and pasties, so it has an NC-17 rating." Full Review

Orlando Weekly

for a previous production “Harris makes the audience feel Baker’s pain and pride at every turn, both through songs and heartfelt soliloquies. Director Marinaccio showcases Harris’s talents to a T…Under Marinaccio’s direction she gets to demonstrate her considerable acting chops as well, digging deep into the sadness beneath Baker’s sunny showbiz exterior.“ Full Review


for a previous production “The source material is fascinating...Beyond the biography, we're also given thought-provoking commentary about racism and how black women's bodies are consumed as entertainment: ideas as relevant today as they were in 1926. Harris' performance is a tour de force. Not only can this gal sing, her burlesque numbers are captivating and her dalliances with audience participation are perfection…A triumphant homage to a life worth remembering. Go see this one.” Full Review

San Diego Reader

for a previous production "At the heart of the story is a complex, unapologetic woman who exhibits her sexuality on her own terms…Harris tantalizes the audience with song, dance, and feathers. Tunes like ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘La Vie en Rose’ intermix with onstage costume changes, a bit of casual dialogue, and — of course — the sultry dance moves of the burlesque icon.” Full Review


for a previous production “'Josephine' is this year’s must-see Fringe show simply because, for an hour, the audience is treated to the haunting voice and commanding presence of Tymisha Harris...Billed as a ‘burlesque cabaret dream play,’ ‘Josephine’ is much more than that, rising to the top of its form under the skilled direction of Marinaccio and a smart, well-balanced script by Kimbro. Sunday night’s crowd gave Harris a rousing standing ovation, which I’m sure will be one of many." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Refreshing, Amazing performance

See it if you want to revel in a masterful performance by triple threat Tymisha Harris-she's amazing. I never knew how fascinating Baker's story was.

Don't see it if you don't like one woman shows or have a problem with tasteful nudity in the style of burlesque.

Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting

See it if Tymisha Harris is amazing in this one woman show about the life of Josephine Baker

Don't see it if you're not interested in seeing a one woman show or do not want to see burlesque

Must see, Refreshing, Sexy, Brilliant & fresh, Strong & seamless performance

See it if Harris is as gorgeous & stunning as her work onstage, her command of stage & character a remarkable tour de force, worth many trips downtown

Don't see it if Absolutely no reason not to—unless you’re a lot less comfortable in your skin than Ms Harris is onstage in hers.

Also Solo performances are hard enough to pull off and bios—especially of p... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Sexy, Intimate, Powerhouse performance

See it if you are interested in learning about the life of Josephine Baker. To see an impressive solo performance. Solid piece.

Don't see it if you don't like one-woman shows. If you aren't comfortable with (almost) nudity.

Baker's nightclub act re-created by a gifted singer

See it if Tymisha Harris nails Baker and shows her evolution from an awkward teenager to world-class performer, Some flashy costumes, too

Don't see it if Some educational patter and some iconic French and English songs. We also learn about her unusual personal life. She was happier in France

Enchanting, Exquisite, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if fascinating, brilliant one woman show. I believed she was Josephine Baker! Do not miss this stellar performance by a triple threat!

Don't see it if You aren't interested in the fascinating Josephine Baker; you don't like intimate, cabaret-style performance spaces

Great acting, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Interacting with the audience telling her story. She sings, dances and it entertains you. The actress Tymisha Harris is excellent.

Don't see it if If you don't like the music from that time.

Absorbing, Must see, Refreshing, Epic performance

See it if A stunning one-woman show. Tymisha Harris soars as Josephine. Captivated throughout. Beautiful voice, deft performance.

Don't see it if You don’t like one-person shows. But this is definitely worth a try.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You are interesting in the life and art of Josephine Baker or you want to see a first-rate performer

Don't see it if You have limited patience for a one-woman show

Delightful, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Wow is all I can say Is this off-off-Broadway show is the reason why I go and see so much crap this show was really great one woman holds Up

Don't see it if I just can’t think of a reason not to see it it’s really great

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great singing

See it if You love and /or want to learn more about Josephine Baker, and enjoy one person shows

Don't see it if You want something that is primarily burlesque or if you can't face hearing about the realities of racism

Funny, Disappointing, Entertaining, Great singing, Sexy

See it if U r ok with a cronological piece that reveals important highlights about the subject without much depths to it. Very entertaining.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy burlesque performances and is expecting a play.

Delightful, Enchanting, Intelligent, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You want to spend some time getting to know legendary performer Josephine Baker, or just want to enjoy a great cabaret act. She sizzles!

Don't see it if semi-nude women, one woman shows; or biographical cabaret acts aren’t your thing.

Also Tymisha Harris captures the charm of Ms. Baker, and relays enough of t... Read more Read less

Delightful, Exquisite, Must see, Riveting, Great singing

See it if you want to get a taste of the extraordinary life of Josephine Baker told in words, songs, and action that will captivate and delight you.

Don't see it if you would be offended by the colorful life of the international super-star Josephine Baker

Also Tymisha Harris is a delightful entertainer. She embraces her character... Read more Read less

Delightful, Quirky, Raunchy, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if Good solo performance of J. Baker life highlights. Dancing was excellent, singing and acting not quite as strong. Audience loved it.

Don't see it if Script was a bit boring, especially if you already know her story. Music consists of solo voice on top of prerecorded instrumental.

Slow, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy highly crafted movement and gesture work (and beautiful costumes!) You want to learn about Josephine Baker.

Don't see it if You want a tight one-person show. You want something with pace.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you ever dreamed of what it was like living in Paris in the Roaring ‘20s, when Josephine Baker was the biggest name in town!

Don't see it if you’re not comfortable with nudity or off color jokes.

Absorbing, Delightful, Relevant, Great singing, Memorable dancing

See it if you want to see an impressive performance. JBaker enraptured Parisian society...and you'll get a glimpse of why. Harris is terrific as JB.

Don't see it if you want lots of info about JB (just go to Wikip). Here, you'll get the essence. Fabulous, dance (fan) & songs (Times Changin, La Vie En Ro)

Also This is a particularly engrossing solo/biographical show, in part beca... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you are curious about Josephine Baker, her life, her dancing, her singing. This is one of the best solo-bio shows I have seen.

Don't see it if nudity distresses you. Josephine Baker was famous for her minimal costumes some of which have been recreated for this production.

Enchanting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to be taken back in history with the life of an entertainer extraordinaire. Delightful messages with fantastic singing.

Don't see it if one person shows are not your thing or if you are in any way unable to bear rough language or nudity.

Delightful, Enchanting, Intelligent, Raunchy, Entertaining

See it if if you are a Josephine Baker fan. Mustn't be missed. This lady is a winner!

Don't see it if you don't know anything about Josephine Baker and don't care.

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You are interested in Josephine Baker and social issues both then and now. Like biography with wonderful singing gancingband story telling.

Don't see it if If you are not interested in biography, history or how history still needs to Move forward

Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if As a theatre goer you want to be entertained then go before it closes, show is entrancing and the actress is fantastic

Don't see it if If you want big productions and musical scores instead of recorded music, nudity bothers you, touchy topics (still sadly) are not your thing

Also I noted that it said show already closed when I logged onto this page,... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to learn about an important piece of entertainment history and be entertained in the process.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with some light audience participation or seeing breasts.

Funny, Ambitious, Raunchy, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if a show about Josephine Baker would interest you. The star was making her NYC debut and was quite good. The show is definitely worth seeing .

Don't see it if a solo performer in a small setting does not interest you. This venue needs more comfortable seating so that can be an issue for some people

Cast & Creatives (4)