Because of the rising racial tensions in the States, she eventually decided to move her livelihood to Europe, where she opened her first cabaret in Paris, hosting celebrities and royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. She later moved on, opening clubs in places like Rome and Mexico City, always drawing a crowd with her intimate style and discretion.
Eventually, she came back to the States and settled in New York, where she died in 1984.
During her tenure in European society, Comstock became intrigued with her West Virginia roots. Writing often about her in his newspaper, Comstock would eventually promise the aging Bricktop to find her body and relocate it to the cemetery in Alderson where her family is buried.
"She is probably one of the most remarkable West Virginians ever to live, but for Jim Comstock, she would have gone unremembered. This play will bring her to life," said area attorney and historian George Daugherty.
Daugherty will portray Comstock when a staged reading of the play, written by West Virginian Beth Campbell, is performed twice on Saturday. Shayla Leftridge, who has performed with the Charleston Light Opera Guild in "Dreamgirls" and "The Color Purple," will star as Bricktop.
The play takes place after Bricktop's death, in a heavenly re-creation of her famous nightclub. It has only three characters: Bricktop, her pianist (played by Mark Parsons) and Comstock.
Daugherty said the play has cabaret-style seating, and people can expect to feel like they are swept back in time, experiencing Bricktop's cabaret as it was in its heyday of the Roaring '20s. It will be "a re-creation of the famous Bricktop's in Paris."
Although there is a discussion at the beginning of the play between Bricktop and Comstock regarding his promise and inability to fulfill it before his death, Daugherty said the audience can expect a true musical experience with lots of nostalgic tunes from the time.
Later this year, Bricktop will be inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. FestivALL director Larry Groce said, "It is important to bring attention to Bricktop now, as part of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial. This is a West Virginia play about West Virginia people."
Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopk...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.