“Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker”
4450 N. Clark Street
Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
The second play of Black Ensemble’s theatre season is based on the life of Josephine Baker. The play has been written and directed by Daryl D. Brooks.
Fourteen outstanding performers make up the cast. Two actresses play Josephine. Joan Ruffin is the older one and Aeriel “Mon Aerie” Williams is the younger one. We find Ms. Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3rd, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. She passed away on April 12th, 1975, at the age of 68 in Paris, France, of a cerebral hemorrhage. She is buried in a Monaco cemetery. Her residence was Roquebrune, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur on the French Riviera. She renounced her American citizenship and took up French citizenship from 1937.
Ms. Baker was a successful actress-dancer-singer but was also a civil rights activist. She was active from 1921 to 1975.
She had four husbands and a partner who was Robert Brady.
The show is well worth attending to see how Negros were treated for many years. It is a two and a half hour show.
There are many well-known musical and dance numbers among the eighteen in the show. Included are “C’est Si Bon,” “La Vie En Rose,” “Bill Bailey,” “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” and others ending with “My Way.” You will find you will get a history lesson after seeing this show.
Performers like Lemond A. Hayes, William Roland, Kyle Smith, Dennis Dent, Linnea Norwood, Henri Slater and others play various characters and roles.
“Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker” runs through Father’s Day on June 18th. For performance days, show times and reservations call 773-769-4451. Tickets are $55 to $65.