Cush Jumbo Truly Stars in Josephine and I

March 11, 2015 2:25 AM

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Pauline Kael once wrote -- and probably said many times -- that "it takes a star to play a star." I thought of the quote while watching Cush Jumbo performing her Josephine and I, at Joe's Pub. The Josephine is Josephine Baker, who went to Paris as a showgirl in the 1920s when she was still a teenager and within months was the toast of that town and remained so for the rest of her life. Assuming the role, Jumbo gives full evidence of possessing the sort of abundant je ne sais quoi that Baker had.

It's difficult now to get an accurate idea of exactly what La Bake-aire did in person that so enchanted the French -- although less so Americans when she returned to these shores to headline Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies of 1936. Nevertheless, footage does remain, including some showing Baker swiveling...

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