Piece of My Heart…

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

a night with janis joplin

Last weekend, I took an acid trip, but not one of a psychedelic nature…I was unknowingly treated to an acid bath. For $50 plus tip, a clearly brain dead pedicurist covered my left foot (great name for a movie) with a lethal callous removing compound during a Spa pedicure, Silly me, I was relaxing, with closed eyes, while the diabolical Spatrix was whipping up her potion.

I exited in a hot flash, thankfully, not from menopause, and decided to flee the pain and reality and take in a matinee. A Night With Janis Joplin had opened the night before on Broadway and I decided to take my simmering leg and foot for a treat.

burned leg
Burned Leg by Spatrix

I settled in and opened my Playbill. The piece of flimsy white paper which always spells gloom and doom in the theater,  floated out of the Playbill, declaring that the star of the show and a featured player were not in this performance.

Are you kidding me…one day into previews and Mary Bridget Davies is not in the play?! I took my battered body down to the box office and came to grips with a overworked, sullen box office employee. Exchanging my ticket was not happening until the manager, witnessing an ever increasing line of disgruntled patrons, bopped into the box office.

At this point the heat from my leg had spread to my sweaty and agitated face and he told the wicked witch to give me whatever I wanted. 4th row orchestra, aisle, Wednesday night, thank you very much. I flew out of the Lyceum on wings of fire.

A night with Janis Joplin is actually a theatrical concert, featuring Mary Bridget Davies in her Broadway debut as Janis Joplin (duh). Her raspy, husky purr, and whisky soaked voice was a gritty impersonation of the one and only, Janis Joplin.

Unfortunately for me, she looks so much like Rachael Ray that I was initially fearful that she would sing as poorly as Rachael Ray cooks (I have worked with her and sampled her food), but Davies served up a tantalizing performance.

mary bridget davies
Mary Bridget Davies (Rachael Ray look alike?!)

Joplin’s singers, The Joplinaires, provided powerful back up. Taprena Michelle Augustine, De’Adre Aziza, Nikki Kimbrough and Allison Blackwell, showcased amazing voices. The band was hot and keep the evening rolling…I loved the 3 piece horn section as I am a brass addict.

The musical featured past and present blues singers (channeled through the Joplinaires) who represented the powerful blues influences in Joplin’s life. In between Joplin numbers, they appeared and performed as, Etta James, the Chantels, Odetta, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin.

The set was comprised of lamps of every size and style, flickering on and off during the show. I had a laugh because just that day I had been shade shopping as the painters demolished my antique bedroom lamp…I was able to have a retail therapy moment during the play.

The audience went bananas for Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company songs and were head bobbin’ and toe tappin’ along to such classics as; “Try,” “Cry Baby,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Ball and Chain,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Stay With Me,” and Mercedes Benz,” which turned into an audience participation number.

Janis Joplin

The finale, In the vein of such rock musicals as “Mama Mia” and “Rock of Ages”, had the audience dancing in the aisles and waving glow sticks, illuminating the Lyceum Theater in a rainbow of colors.

Janis rocked my world for over 2 hours. If you are a classic rock fan, go see it. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more depth and information about Joplin’s life after joining Big Brother, her subsequent success, Joplin’s plunge into darkness battling alcohol and drugs and her untimely death.

Please note…be wary of your seatmates…the woman next to be filed her nails during the first half of act 2…after I offered her a hand massage, she stopped.

A Night With Janis Joplin, Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, NYC. Mary Bridget Davies does not perform the matinees.

real janis
Ms. Janis Joplin

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