Janis Joplin may be gone, but the music of the iconic 1960s rocker continues to resonate with new generations of fans, including Mary Bridget Davies, a performer who is bringing Joplin back to life every night on stage. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
Janis Joplin, the signature siren of the late '60s, put the rock in blues and the blues in rock.
Mary Bridget Davies has been singing her heart out as the late singer for over a year now in the show "One Night with Janis Joplin," which has been touring the country in advance of a Broadway opening in October.
"In order to play Janis, you can't live like Janis," says Davies. "So it really is like athletic conditioning."
Davies should know, having performed on and off several years ago in the previous Janis incarnation and acclaimed touring musical "Love, Janis" as well as fronting Joplin's original band "Big Brother and the Holding Company."
In the current show, Davies performs six times a week, leaving the matinee chores to an equally accomplished understudy.
Though Joplin's meteoric rise was punctuated with bouts of drugs and alcohol and extinguished at age 27, all audiences are shown is the singer taking a swig of Southern Comfort. Instead, audiences see more of Janis's love of the blues and her full embrace of live performance.
"Her music and her performance were so important to her that she would actually stop in the middle of a song and make sure everyone is still paying attention," says Davies.
Picture "One Night with Janis Joplin," which will be renamed "A Night with Janis Joplin" when it hits Broadway, as a concert where not only her greatest hits are performed, but also one that pays tribute to the women and the music that made her career possible through a character simply called "The Blues Singer."
"Blues was Janis's absolute foundation and she loved very much Bessie Smith and Nina Simone, Etta James, Odetta and Aretha Franklin," says Davies. "By the end of the show, everyone knows that they are involved and everybody leaves on an upbeat note. And that's what we want – a celebration."