The Pasadena Playhouse presented the powerhouse production of One Night With Janis Joplin, and after parking carefully, grabbing a drink at the new Red White and Bluez restaurant relocation next door, theatergoers immersed themselves into the energy of the show.
Mary Bridget Davies captures the title role and for more than two hours, the playhouse is filled with her authentic, gut wrenching casting as Joplin. She tells stories of Joplin’s influences, sings some of her greatest hits and with a voice that is an uncanny match to Joplin’s own, captures and steers the audience through the night.
Davies is joined onstage by Sabrina Elayne Carter, who serves as chanteuse under the title of “Blues Singer,” but she does more than just add support. She gives the audience a beautiful interpretation of Besse Smith, Odette, and Nina Simone, amongst other great singers. Her range is astounding and her operatic training is quite evident. She is a fantastic draw herself and could easily hold an audience with her own vocal styling. But she, combined with the powers of Davies, makes for a fantastic night out.
Davies, a Blues singer from Ohio, bears enough of a physical similarity to Joplin and can vocally stretch herself to channel, almost exactly, the great but short-lived Joplin. She’s been kicking around Blues Town since 2002, but finally met her match with this score and is playing it, hopefully, all the way to Broadway.
She started in 2005 in Love, Janis, another interpretation of Joplin shaped directly by Laura Joplin’s book of the same title. Davies then played Europe with Big Brother and the Holding Company in 2006 and then she came back to Broadway and finally recorded her debut album, called Wanna Feel Something, in 2012.
The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. Sleepless in Seattle – The Musical opens May 24th. For complete info, visit PasadenaPlayhouse.org.