My Friend from Kentucky (Darktown Follies)
The Darktown Follies in "My Friend from Kentucky" was a three act comedy that was produced and initially staged in Harlem by J. Leubrie Hill. The production had been previously named "My Friend from Dixie" and it would go through a series of title and content changes before finally becoming known as Darktown Follies. The show is remembered for the dancing, unlike anything that had been witnessed on Broadway, and it had great drawing power that brought whites into Harlem at night. The production would eventually be moved downtown and performed for white audiences. One of the main characters is Bill Simmons, a businessman from Kentucky, who convinces character Jim Jackson Lee that for a fee he can leave his wife and her father's Virginia plantation (an African American-owned plantation) for a better life and a newer wife in Washington, D.C. For more see "The Darktown Follies" in A Century of Musicals in Black and White, by B. L. Peterson; and Steppin' On the Blues, by J. Malone.