A Night with Janis Joplin – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Five decades have passed since Janis Joplin commanded a stage, singing her unique brand of rock ’n roll, gospel, country, soul and blues musical styles to her faithful audiences. One of the original “sex, drugs and rock ’n roll” gals, her star burned bright and hot and extinguished all too quickly. Luckily the Ivoryton Playhouse is bringing the star back for an encore performance until Sunday, June 24 with “A Night with Janis Joplin.”

Francesca Ferrari and Paige McNamara are sharing the honors of the title role of Janis, bringing forth her deep gravelly voice, dark cloud of long hair, distinct style selling songs, and energetic kinetic movements. Along with the distinctive music are stories about her Texas past and the super talents who influenced her musical magic like Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Blues Woman and Chantel created by Amma Osei, Etta James and Chantel created by Tawny Dolley, Bessie Smith, Odetta and Chantel created by Aurianna Angelique and Blues Singer and lead Chantel created by Jennifer Leigh Warren.

No need for hearing aides as these women know how to belt out their music to the rafters. A mighty rock band of eight, led by Michael Morris, helps them put the tunes over the top. The show has been created, written and directed by Randy Johnson. Featured songs include “Tell Mama,” “Summertime,” “Piece of My Heart,” Spirit in the Dark,” Little Girl Blue,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “I’m Gonna Rock My Way to Heaven” and “Mercedes Benz.” Projections that include Joplin’s paintings by Darrel Maloney add to the message.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50, students $22, children $17 ), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Had she not died of a drug overdose at 27, Janis Joplin would now be 76. Yet her music and her style live on and she continues to rock her way to heaven.

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