Entertainment » Theatre

A Night with Janis Joplin

by Kelly May
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jan 22, 2018
Kelly McIntyre as Janis Joplin
Kelly McIntyre as Janis Joplin  

On January 19, Boston celebrated Janis Joplin's birthday at the Shubert Theatre with the touring show "A Night with Janis Joplin." A talented group of performers and a warm crowd made for a perfect evening.

"A Night with Janis Joplin" is about enjoying Janis Joplin's music and the artists who influenced her. Since this is a musical about a musician, the main questions most will ask are: "How was the music?" And "How are the singers?" The answers: fantastic. Kelly McIntyre, as Janis Joplin, sings with intensity, like Joplin's, and the other singers and musicians are equally skilled and charismatic. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention the great job that the stage manager, Hethyr Verhoef, and the sound engineers do. This professional team makes sure their singers' voices shine at every moment.

In a little over two hours, "A Night with Janis Joplin" explores Joplin's love affair with the blues. Throughout the evening, performers playing famous blues singers such as Odetta, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, and more sing the blues. Each performer is great, as is the eight-piece band that accompanies the singers. In between songs, Joplin talks about how blues singers influence her. Then the musical rolls out Joplin's rock 'n roll interpretation of songs like, "Summertime" and "Down on Me."

All evening, Janis Joplin talks straight to the audience, which brings a sense of intimacy to the musical. Janis' monologues are filled with real quotes from the singer. With a less charismatic person, these dialogues could be (boring) filler. But Janis Joplin was truly charming and thoughtful, so her comments about love, life, and more give added weight to the singer's songs and her life. A few favorite quotes from the night are:

"It's the want of something that gives you the blues"

"[Bessie Smith]... taught me how to fill [the air]",

"All of a sudden, someone threw me in front of this rock and roll band. And I decided then and there that was it. I never wanted to do anything else."

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

"On stage, I make love to twenty-five thousand people; and then I go home alone."

"A Night with Janis Joplin" is a carefully curated evening about a powerful artist, her influences of blues and her philosophical examination of being a woman. It was a fun musical about the Queen of Rock n Roll filled with great performances.

For more information on "A Night with Janis Joplin," including the dates for its national tour, visit the show's website.

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