soulciti Reviews One Night With Janis Joplin
Dr. Moe Anderson, soulciti.com
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,
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.