After a Tony Awards®-nominated performance on Broadway, Mary Bridget Davies brings her incarnation of Janis Joplin to the Ordway in Saint Paul.
If you’re expecting a traditional Broadway show like Jersey Boys or Beautiful, you’ll be disappointed. This isn’t a story of Janis’ life and how she become the rock legend we know today. Instead, A Night With Janis Joplin is staged as a concert in 1970, shortly before Janis’ death, it is an intimate show with Janis (Mary Bridget Davies) reflecting on the female blues singers who influenced her over the years. The first act mainly consists of Janis walking down memory lane and providing background on how singers like Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Odetta, Bessie Smith and others influenced her. As she speaks of the singers they sing one of their songs which left a big impression on her followed by Janis singing her version of the same song. In the second act we dive more into Janis’ career and the songs which made her famous and continue to inspire others still today. Some of the highlights include performances of “Me & Bobby McGee”, “Cry-Baby”, and “Mercedes Benz”.
As you’d expect with a concert format the setting and stage is pretty bare. Mary Bridget Davies’ Janis is backed by a group of musicians representing her frequent collaborators Big Brother & The Holding Company. Aside from a small chair and side table the set includes a backdrop for projections.
Overall, I enjoyed the show and the audience did too. The show was a little slow to start with. I don’t think people fully knew what to expect. Was this a concert style show or more of a traditional show, but as the show wen
t on the audience warmed up and was fully invested…complete with several standing ovations. I would have loved to see the show in a more intimate venue. Something with a rock concert feel to it. But Mary Bridget Davies had no problem commanding the attention of everyone in the large room.
A Night With Janis Joplin is playing at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul through Sunday, April 3. For more information on the show or to purchase tickets visit the Ordway’s website.