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Janis Joplin cds
Rock legend Janis Joplin shot to fame and glory at
the end of the 1960's as the passionate, raw voice of an angry and confused generation,
ripe for political and social change. She lived fast and loose and died young. But her
image has lived on and her music remains as fresh and powerful today as when it first hit
the airwaves. Naturally, her emotional music and troubled life inspires analysis and
Love, Janis, Randal Myler's spirited and poignant musical, was inspired by the biography of the same name, written by Joplin's younger sister, Laura. The production explores Joplin's life as a performer/public icon, on the one hand, and as a sensitive, vulnerable woman on the other. It weaves energetic performances of Joplin's songs with dramatic vignettes of her life, culled from her letters and interviews. The biographical events begin in June,1966 after Joplin has hitchhiked to San Francisco to audition for the band Big Brother and the Holding Company (an audition that proved to be successful) and continue until her death of a heroin overdose in1970.
Two performers share the role of Joplin on stage. As the singer "Janis Joplin," Cathy Richardson (alternating performances with Andra Mitrovich owing to the demands of Joplin's vocal style), belts her heart out and grooves with a cast of goofy bandmates (all live musicians). While their performances don't quite live up to the frenetic, one-with-the-music, drugged-out-haze of the originals, they nevertheless invoke the energy and spirit of the times. As the woman "Janis," Catherine Curtain embodies the multifaceted, gifted, but troubled vocalist. She captures and delicately balances the many shades of Joplin's personality: the ambitious, hopeful talent; insecure woman; guilty daughter; devoted pet owner; disdainful lover; defiant alcoholic; ambivalent druggie--all with honesty, conviction and much aplomb. The two performers sometimes act together on stage at the same time, their interaction enhancing the portrayal of Joplin's complex personality.
The stage is dressed for a band with drums, keyboard, guitars and microphones. At times it represents a honkey tonk bar, at others, concert stages in Chicago and New York City. Thanks to the versatile production design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, the venue, no matter the location, always feels immediate and energetic. Bo G. Eriksson's projection designs enhance the sense of place and movement during the dramatic sequences.
The musical includes performances of all of Joplin's great hits, including "Piece of My Heart" "Ball & Chain" "Mercedes Benz" "Me and Bobby McGee" "Get It While You Can", as well as an early ditty "What Good Can Drinking Do." Musical direction and arrangements were provided by Sam Andrew, founder of Big Brother and the Holding Company. His participation lends authenticity to the musical interpretations.
Love, Janis passionately explores the person behind the myth and the music that stirs listeners now as it has for four decades.
New York, April, 2001 - Susanna Horng