Josephine: a stellar off-broadway show at Adelaide Fringe tells Josephine Baker’s story

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Josephine is an outstanding one-woman performance by American Tymisha Harris which tells the story of Jospehine Baker. It comes to Adelaide having had a successful off-Broadway run in the USA and is a must-see show of the Adelaide Fringe.



For those who don’t know, Josephine Baker was an African-American performer who had a glowing career in France after her own homeland shunned her. She went on to become the biggest and richest black female star in the world. Later in life, she spied as part of the French Resistance (artists wouldn’t get strip searched at borders – amusing given she was mostly naked for a living) and spoke at civil rights rallies back in the United States, at the invitation of Martin Luther King. She had many husbands (5 in fact) and 12 adopted children. She didn’t just stick to men though, having a romance with Frida Kahlo after they met in 1939.


Tymisha Harris captivates as she takes on the persona of Josephine Baker in this 70 minute show. The show has everything from singing, to acting to burlesque (that fan dance!) and dancing (we also get to see the famous “danse sauvage” with the banana skirt). And Tymisha Harris does all 4 just as well as the other. She is indeed a triple threat. Tymisha’s voice took us to Josephine Baker’s era. This is probably likely as close as we can get to being at a Josephine Baker show.


The set was quite basic but perfectly functional. On one side of the stage, we often see Josephine Baker ducking into, over and out of her changing room (behind a screen – which makes for a particulary funny hand puppet like scene and other shadow play). On the other side, a small dressing table from which Tymisha Harris performs one part of the show. But just as Josephine spent a lot of her life centre stage, as does Tymisha Harris in her portrayal of Jospehine.


And the costumes! There were costume changes for every number performed – so many that we lost count.


Harris interacts with the audience, encouraging one to help her with her bra and serenading another. Rather than this being a show where the audience squirmed and looked down when the artist approaches the audience, Josephine was one in which everyone looked at Tymisha Harris eyes wide open, almost inviting the attention. The audience is also encouraged to sing-along with songs such as Cab Calloway’s “The Hi De Ho Man”.



As we left the Black Box Theatre jubilant for Josephine Baker, and Tymisha Harris’ success, the audience could be heard discussing how they would have reacted if they too were aged 16 and had a mysterious French man appear at their dressing room door who invited them to perform in the nude in Paris. What would you do?




Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Fringe




Josephine is currently on at the Black Box Theatre in the Adelaide Botanic Garden:

Fri 21 Feb – Sun 23 Feb: 7:25pm

Tue 25 Feb – Sun 1 Mar: 7:25pm


It will also be performed at The Pocket at Stirling Fringe:

Thu 27 Feb: 2:30pm


Tickets cost between $23 and $30 and can be purchased via this link:


For more French linked Adelaide Fringe shows, click here.



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