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A Night With Janis Joplin

Playing at Lyceum Theatre located at 145 West 45th Street. It plays two hours twenty minutes with one intermission. The show is an open ended run.

Janis Joplin was a blues rock, soul, psychedelic rock, acid rock and country singer. She was born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas. Janis began her career in 1960 with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Later she went solo with her own back up groups The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band. Some of the songs she is known for are “Piece of my Heart”, “Mercedes Benz” and “Me and Bobby McGee”. She only had one hit record (Me and Bobby McGee.) Janis was known as the “Queen of Psychedelic Soul” Rolling Stone ranked her 46 on list of 100 Greatest Artists in 2004 and in 2008 she was 28 out of a 100 artists. Janis died on October 4, 1970 of an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with effects of alcohol.

De’Adre Aziza was nominated for a Tony award in 1995 for “Passing Strange”.

Mary Bridget Davies received the 2013 Cleveland Critics Award for Best Actress in a musical and was nominated in 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a resident musical for this show.

The story revolves around how Janis became a singer, her family and the women singers who inspired her. It combines a rock concert with a history of the legend.

Janis Joplin (Alison Cusano) grew up in Texas. Her mother was a singer. When they cleaned the house her mother played over and over Broadway shows. She went to California with a male friend whose group was Big Brother and the Holding Company. Janis said she wasn’t prepared to sing with a group.

The women singers who had an influence on her style were, Bessie Smith (Taprena Michelle Aziza), Aretha Franklin (Allison Blackwell), Etta James (Nikki Kimbrough) and Nina Simone (De’Adre Aziza). She performs with Aretha Franklin.

There is no mention of the men in her life.

There is a hint about her drinking. She takes a couple swigs from a liquor bottle when on stage or when she is talking about her life.

There are lights with shades everywhere on the stage. There are lights on the side of the stage in the front and strobe lights too. A cat walk is located on the back of the stage with a stair case on the left where the performers come down on. The screen behind it lights up with different things on it. Like Janis paintings or psychedelic lights.

This is a well done, enjoyable musical biography.

East cast member holds their own in portraying a different legend. In the performance I saw the under study Allison Cusano did Janis. All I can say is wow. Well I can say more. She was fantastic capturing her voice and movements. I wonder how the other two actresses do her. Mary Bridget Davies is on at night and Kacee Clanton is on at the matinees.

The audience was having a blast.

This is a show everyone will like especially the flower generation. The younger generation will find out what kind of music their parents/grandparents liked.

The only thing I did not like the strobe like flashing in yours eyes.

The cast teased the audience at the end. They left after curtain call except for the band. The audience kept clapping when “Janis” came back out she sang “Mercedes Benz”.

Review by Rozanna Radakovich

Photos by Annazor.

For a candid interview with the cast, scroll to the left for recent photos. Click on recent photos for this and others shows.