“You better listen to me motherf******”, commanded the smoky woman to the audience, her uncanny resemblance to a figure still renown some 40 years after her death and whose voice endears as a galvanizing force to listeners. The woman being portrayed was Janis Joplin, the wild child/gypsy soul of music and one of the greatest acts in history. Those inside of the Durham Performing Arts Center on Thursday night were treated to a spiritual rendition of that enduring legacy.
Portraying the singer is actor Mary Bridget Davies, a 2014 Tony Award nominee whose no stranger when it comes to the role having previously had a turn with it in the production Love, Janis. Davies’ brought Janis to life on stage, recounting stories of the singer’s youth spent listening to folk and soul (these later influencing her own foray into singing “the Blues”) and commentating on the feeling music has on a woman and how they could belt their hearts out as well as any man, but with a grit that only a “rock mama” could. Formulating the bulk of the show were performances by Davies’ and her backing band, the “Joplinaires”, as well as celebrated guest appearances by Janis’ contemporaries and inspirations such as Aretha Franklin & Nina Simone (masterfully reincarnated by actor Q. Smith) that served as a musical journey celebrating the greatest hits of each. For some 2 hours, Davies’ and company treated fans both old and new to the raw emotion and unforgettable presence that Janis Joplin brought.
“A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN” is presented in association with The Estate of Janis Joplin and Jeffrey Jampol of JAM, INC and is on tour throughout the US until April 24. For remaining dates/locations and to purchase tickets, please visit www.anightwithjanisjoplin.com
To learn more about Janis Joplin, please visit www.janisjoplin.com
Lamarr Fowlkes is a Raleigh/Chapel Hill based contributing writer for Triangle Arts and Entertainment and a Promotions Assistant for LiveNation Entertainment. A former UNC-Asheville Bulldog and UNC Tar Heel, descendant of dual Welsh and Nigerian ancestry and noted hockey enthusiast, Lamarr will continue to provide art and entertainment coverage for the Triangle area while simultaneously expanding his reach to the remainder of the Carolinas. To read more of Lamarr’s posts for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/lamarr-fowlkes