Many more nights with Janis Joplin to come, at The Rep

It’s not often a show at the San Jose Repertory Theatre is extended before the curtain at Opening Night even goes up.  But that is what happened with the extremely popular production of One Night With Janis Joplin, now through October 6.

There is magic up on stage.

Much more than a concert, One Night with Janis Joplin explores the history of the Queen of Rock, brings to life her blues influences such as Etta James and Aretha Franklin, and brings an enormous amount of fun throughout the night.

Kacee Clanton has been immersed in playing Janis Joplin on a variety of stages, including touring as the lead vocalist for Big Brother and the Holding Company (a band I was not aware was still around).  Clanton is an amazing presence on stage, with vocals strikingly similar to Joplin’s, and though she’s not a ringer for her physically, there is enough of a resemblance to sometimes bring chills when she reappears on stage with certain familiar Joplin looks.  The vocals however are what wins this night. There are times when it seems certain that Clanton is channeling Joplin’s soul straight from heaven, and speaking of chills, listening to her belt out Ball and Chain is almost a religious experience.  I will never forget being in the audience for this song, the closest I will ever be to actually hearing Joplin sing live.

Clanton, as Joplin, speaks to the audience throughout the show, giving us her personal history growing up in Texas and then moving to San Francisco to be an unwitting major player in the history of rock & roll.  She talks about all her blues influences, and there are breaks between Joplin’s songs to listen to songs by Bessie Smith, Etta James, Nina Simone and the great Aretha Franklin, brought to life by Tiffany Mann, Tricky Jones and Shinnerrie Jackson. All accompanied by an amazing live band.

There is clapping, there is dancing, there are tears.  There is an audience dressed in tie-dye and gorgeous vintage 60s dresses.  There is a free photo booth with feather boas and a bottle of Southern Comfort as props, and if you’re thirsty there is a special Southern Comfort drink available at concessions.   There is magic on stage, and I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that the soul of Janis Joplin herself is there as well.

This is a show not to be missed, but it is selling out quickly, so get your tickets while you can.

One Night with Janis Joplin
Through October 6
San Jose Repertory Theatre

Note: The part of Janis Joplin is played by Cari Hutson on all Tuesday evenings, Saturday matinees, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday, September 18 at 11am.

 

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