Jasmine Amy Rogers has been selected as the legendary, baby-faced flapper Betty Boop in “BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical,” which will make its Chicago debut this autumn with hopes of making it to Broadway.
Since 1930, Betty Boop has reigned as the queen of animated cartoon characters, sporting big eyes, a strapless minidress with a garter peeking out over her knee, and enormous hoop earrings in her ears. She made her debut in short films, fluttering her lashes and trilling her trademark “Boop-oop-a-doop” as a Depression-era bad girl.
“Those are huge shoes to fill, but I’m in such a great company. I have so many people around me that are helping me find her and bring her to life, and so it’s really, really exciting,” Rogers told The Associated Press before her official unveiling.
Jerry Mitchell, who discovered Rogers while directing the musical “Becoming Nancy” at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta in 2019, is the show’s director and choreographer.
“From the moment Jasmine walks into a room and shares that magnificent smile and her contagious laugh, you know you are in the presence of Betty Boop. And, like the cartoon Betty, Jasmine can do everything brilliantly—acting, singing, dancing—I know her performance will capture the hearts of audiences of all ages,” Mitchell said to Blex Media on why he chose Rogers for the title role.
Mitchell, a two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer and director whose productions include “Legally Blonde,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Hairspray,” and “La Cage aux Folles,” provided more details on his decision to choose Rogers.
“I remember even when she first auditioned for me for that there was something about her—that ‘it’ thing. They walk in, and they’ve got that ‘it’ thing, and you watch them, and you go, ‘That’s the person’.”
“I was looking for moxie. I was looking for effervescence,” he revealed. “There’s a song at the end of the first act, and when she sang the song, she just made me cry, brought me to tears with so much joy and so much style. That was it. She completely won the role. She came in and won the role.”
He also mentioned Rogers’ vulnerability and interesting laugh: “She’s got that crazy giggle that just makes me giddy.”
Rogers is one of many young performers who are taking on roles that were not necessarily written with Black women in mind. She believes it is very important for her to portray Betty as a fully-fleshed human being.
“I really hope for young women that come to see it, that they they do leave feeling inspired, and they feel seen and loved and heard,” she remarked.
Rogers spent two years at the Manhattan School of Music before leaving to begin auditioning full-time. Her credits also include “The Wanderer” at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and being a 2017 Jimmy Award finalist. She was on tour as Gretchen Wieners in “Mean Girls.”
Recounting her journey, Rogers said, “I went to college for two years and that really wasn’t the path for me at the time. And I ended up leaving and I wasn’t sure what was going to come next. And then I immediately booked ‘’Becoming Nancy. So, it’s been a dream forever and now it’s finally happening. But I’ve definitely, I’ve been doing it since I was 7, working really hard.”
Rogers expressed her joy at bringing someone as important as Betty Boop to life. “I always dreamt that I would get to do something like this and bring to life somebody as important and as loved as Betty, but I never dreamt that in a million years that it would be Betty herself. So it’s really crazy,” said Rogers.
“BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical” premieres on Broadway in Chicago on November 19 and runs through December 24. The musical has songs by multiple Grammy Award-winner David Foster, lyricist Susan Birkenhead, and a script by Tony Award-winner Bob Martin (“The Drowsy Chaperone,” “The Prom”). The new musical is supported by Fleischer Studios, which created her cartoons.