Had a great time at Arena Stage last night, seeing the extraordinary Mary Bridget Davies become the great white blues rocker, Janis Joplin who, unbelievably, died at age 27. The play, quite unlike an earlier musical play about Janis’ life and death, LOVE JANIS, is a total celebration of Janis’ art, her notions as artist, and most prominently, her influences. The evening, quite unlike the next musical in our lives coming around the corner at Theater J, WOODY SEZ, has no scenes per se. No dramatic moments. It’s an evening spoken in the performer’s voice, first person direct address, but there the similarities end. Or do they? It will be fascinating to continue thinking of this form of theater — the musical biography — and the choices made as to illuminating the life, the times, the dramas of the singer’s life, and the questions and emotions surrounding his or her death.
Putting this up now, so that students can respond to the Arena show, but it’s also a place setting for our own musical celebration to come in less than two weeks, just after the election, when Woody and his Corn Cob Quartet come rumbling and a rambling into town. Much more on that soon!