Q & A with Actress Lynette DuPree

We’re talking with Broadway, Motion Picture, and Television actress Miss Lynette DuPree, currently preparing for her role as the infamous “Bricktop” in the Ken Waissman musical production of Josephine. The musical, based on the book Remembering Josephine Baker by Stephen Papich, is set to open for this fall Broadway season.

PATTE: First, let me thank you for attending our holiday house warming and delighting us with one of your songs from the upcoming Broadway musical about the life of legendary Parisian star, Josephine Baker.

Lynette: It was indeed my pleasure. I’m always so delighted when I have the chance to sing. I am truly blessed and it comes from within, from within my heart.

Q: Believe me it shows! I know you’ve been primarily concentrating on your film work, but what drew you back to the musical stage and Broadway?

A: Well Broadway is not new to me. I’ve appeared in many Broadway musicals such as Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, which garnered Tony Awards for director George C. Wolfe, as well as choreographer Savion Glover. Smokey Joe’s Café was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album and Truly Blessed, where I was thrilled to play Mahalia Jackson. In national/international touring companies I was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a principal role as Effie in Dreamgirls at Chicago’s Candlelight Playhouse. What a glorious time that was, because we actually wore the entire lush and lavish Theoni V. Aldredge designed costumes.

More recently I have appeared in the highly acclaimed Oprah Winfrey production of The Color Purple, and in between I have appeared in a multitude of other on-and-off Broadway and regional shows.

Q: What attracted you to the role of Bricktop in the musical Josephine?

A: First of all she is a dynamic character to portray and a real person from history. She was a flame red-headed, cigar chomping friend and confidant to Josephine Baker and like Josephine she was also an African American expatriate. They basically arrived in Paris around the same time and were suddenly treated with respect and dignity – what’s not to love about that? While Josephine became an overnight sensation at the Folies Bergere, Bricktop ran the Chez Bricktop nightclub and they were both the rage of Paris – the talk of the town! Bricktop also sang and often entertained her celebrity clientele. Everyone went to see Josephine, and after her show, everyone, including Josephine, came to see “my place” because, you see, I am becoming Bricktop, and that’s what defines the actor and brings a show to life — making it real.

Q: Miss Baker led such a huge, illustrious life, enough to fill three lifetimes. How were the writers able to fit everything into a two-plus hour musical?

A: Our producer, Ken Waissman (Grease, Agnes of God, and Torch Song Trilogy), actually conceived the show from Stephen Papich’s biography written from his memories and experiences with his dear friend Josephine. Under the guidance of Mr. Waissman, writers Ellen Weston and Mark Hampton created “the book” which takes place between 1939 and 1945, based on actual events.

Lynette: Patte dear, I’m having a wonderful time with our interview and have so much more to tell, but they are about to call me to the set now. Please, may we pick this up where we left off for your readers?

Patte: Of course, Lynette. Everyone stay tuned for Part II of our interview with Lynette DuPree, and don’t forget to tune in to watch Miss DuPree in The Middle on ABC, Wednesday nights, at 8:00 p.m.

If you care to comment about this column, please email me at pattebarham@hotmail.com.

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