[[endteaser]]This intimate show with larger-than-life performances, an amazing band, captivating set, and profound lighting is playing at The Rep through August 7. Here are some reasons to see this fantastic show.
Reason number one - The star - Kelly McIntyre. Kelly comes directly from the Broadway tour, which wrapped a few months ago. Her time on the road may have help because Ms. McIntyre gives a beautifully rounded presentation of a very interesting person. In an almost manic state, she volleys between happy entertainer and pained person. Kelly finds Joplin's humor, pain, and heart, all while being a fantastic narrator.
Reason number two/three - The Book (Script) of the show. Now I say it's tied with the cast and I'll get to them in a minute. What's brilliant is how this story is told. While the premise is you're at a Janis Joplin concert, the show shifts back and forth between her concert and the performances of the blues and Broadway singers that inspired or befriended Janis. You see the women that guided Joplin to greatness through their voices, stories, and friendships. Brilliant.
Reason number two/three - The ensemble. The reason they're tied? The remarkable ensemble rocks this amazing book and this amazing book makes for the possibility for a remarkable ensemble. Each of the four supporting women plays a friend or inspiration to Joplin.
Danyel Fulton portrays a blues singer with zest and passion. She's a lot of fun. Kimberly Ann Steele portrays Etta James with heart and grace. Nikita R. Jones plays with Bessie Smith and Odetta beautifully. Then there's Jannie Jones who returns to The Rep after performing in Smokey Joe's Café. Jones who portrays Nina Simone also plays "the queen of soul" herself, Miss Aretha Franklin. When these four women an McIntyre recreates a performance of Joplin performing with Franklin and the entire house goes crazy. It's absolutely thrilling and a nice change of pace for The Rep.
Randy Johnson's book and direction are wonderful and a inspiring. The levels and depth he added to an already interesting story are fascinating.
Reason number four - The Set. The set is absolutely fun and inspiring as well. At face value it's a rock concert stage. In-depth it's a visual description of Joplin's soul, including her artwork, which flies on from time to time.
Reason five - The Lighting. The technical team is always impressive at The Rep but this lighting is transformational. The moving lights sweep and swish like water washing over messed up sand. The lights blind the audience with a wave of blues and whites like an eraser on a chalkboard, breaking up scenes and memories.
There's more reasons than this but you can discover them when you see A Night with Janis Joplin at The Rep before she jumps on the tour bus and heads away August 7. Just be ready to rock!