Amongst many projects, composer/singer Sophie B. Hawkins recently showed off her acting and singing chops in Room 105, The Highs and Lows of Janis Joplin, with hopes of bringing it to Broadway.
Sophie first broke ground with her song “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.” Her genuine talent, sans any makeup, transformed her into Janis, as if you were watching the late great member of the 27 Club. The actress does not age. She looks as young and vibrant as she did when she first hit the music scene.
“It’s a really complicated role, especially on the emotional level,” Sophie says. “The play is written so truthfully. You can’t fake one moment. Emotions have to be exact and dialogue is so raw. Janis had so many layers of desperation and vulnerability.”
She adds, “This is the most thrilling project that I’ve ever been involved with. I have to go do a ‘Sophie’ show next week and it doesn’t have the same meaning. I’d rather plan Janis!” Her play had a great run at the Macha Theatre on N. Kings Rd.
Sophie credits her acting coach, Carole D’Andrea. “I am in awe of her work.”
Before this show was ever in anyone’s mind, industry types like Bob Dylan told Sophie that she was a natural to play Joplin. “I don’t know how people saw that before; I never did! We handle things so differently. I was more of an extrovert when younger, but when I became successful, I became an introvert. Janis was the opposite.
Mel Gibson saw the show. “He gave us notes and stayed for four hours. Who does that? I was blown away.” Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson also stopped in. “Those three actors, on top of their game, came to this show and took their time to give us notes.”
Very few know that Sophie has a seven-year-old son. “Motherhood has brought me to reality. I see everything so clearly. I am right here. I am not hiding or running. Before this, I was all about my work. Before my son, my dogs and my cat were my children.” She may add to her family.
On the political front, Sophie has campaigned for Hilary Clinton. The singer was at an event where Mary Steenburgen befriended her with an intro to the politician. They hit it off and Sophie wrote the song, “Damn, We Wish You Were Our President.”
Always challenging herself, Sophie taught herself Hebrew, a difficult language to learn. “I’m not Jewish, but can identify with so many of the people.” She hopes to visit Israel with her son.
In the meantime, she is writing a musical and landed Kristin Chenoweth as the lead. Who better, but Broadway’s best!
“She’s extremely busy, so we will wait for her. Gigi Gaston, who wrote Room 105, also wrote the book for the musical. I owe her a lot. It’s a combination of My Fair Lady, Cinderella, and Annie Get Your Gun.” She plays Joplin till Dec. 30.
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in luxury brand development. Her work appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, on broadcasts, and the web.