Musical Review: One Night With Janis Joplin


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Musical Review: One Night With Janis Joplin

  1. 1. soulciti Reviews One Night With Janis Joplin Dr. Moe Anderson, Published August 2013 If you were not getting your psychedelic party on in the late 60’s, the name Janis Joplin may only be vaguely familiar to you. Rocker with the feather boa in her hair? Woodstock? That “Lord Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz” song? Joplin was very huge in the music industry, but her hits aren’t being sampled by Rick Ross like her contemporary Jimi Hendrix. Sadly, Joplin passed away of a drug overdose in 1970 at the age of 27 before there was a Billboard hit list for R&B, or she undoubtedly would have been on it. Fortunately, her music lives on and is currently featured in a new musical at ZACH’s Topfer Theatre in Austin, Texas. The show is called “One Night With Janis Joplin” and all we can say is thank goodness it’s running for more than one night! Creator, writer and director Randy Johnson has done a first class job of bringing Joplin’s story to the stage. She is known as a Rock ‘N Roll legend, but her style could never be described as pure rock. (Think Joss Stone or Amy Winehouse with a little more gravel in their vocal chords and a lot more horns in their bands.) The real Joplin belted out her songs in a mixture of blues, rock and soul that is succinctly captured by the show’s star performer, Kacee Clanton. She channels Joplin’s distinctive style from head to toe, including the spastic flaying of her limbs, layers of jewelry, booze guzzling and hair flips during her powerful vocal deliveries. In reality, Joplin performed with legends like Jimi Hendrix and Tina Turner. While some white artists of that era have been accused of literally taking the words from black artists’ mouths, surgically extracting the soul, and releasing them with careless disregard for their past or future, Joplin paid vocal homage to the artists who influenced her, giving credit where it was due. When she remade a song, it became an entirely new creature, more reborn than remixed. In the musical,
  2. 2. some of the artists who inspired Joplin are portrayed by the exquisitely talented singer Tiffany Mann (No, not Take Me To the King-Tyler Perry-Mann. That’s Tamela.) All I can say is this wo-Mann can SANG! Whether she was portraying Nina Simone or the Queen of Soul, she raised the roof and blew it all the way to San Antonio. It’s worth going to the musical just to see her; however, the combination of the two powerful singers makes this a can’t-lose proposition. Of particular note, Joplin grew up in Port Arthur, Texas and briefly attended the University of Texas. While she was a student there, she performed at Threadgill’s and other local venues. A lot of fun facts and history are woven between the musical numbers to create a visual and auditory tapestry unlike many we’ve seen in the United States, let alone Central Texas. The next stop for this Broadway-bound show is San Jose Repertory Theatre. Kinfolks, don’t sleep on this one! I give it a big high five and a whoop-whoop!! This musical was so enjoyable, I’d actually pay to see it again, and again – and again! One Night With Janis Joplin at ZACH Theatre runs Wednesday-Sunday until August 25th. For tickets, visit ZACH online or call the Box Office at (512) 476-0541 x1 ------------- Monica Anderson is a writer, speaker, and dentist in Austin, Texas.