I only caught one production for “review” on the weekend, but it was a mind-blowingly magical, musical must see!

The audience was “blown away” from start to finish!

One Night with Janis Joplin

Photo by Jim Cox

Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin and Sabrina Elayne Carten as the Blues Singer in “One Night with Janis Joplin.”

Still reeling from the all round excellence of this mega-musical production … I hardly know where to start! Fearlessly flawless in every area of “theatrical magic” … from the passionate performances to the mood setting “behind the scenes” efforts, and thunderous audience response … this is a fabulous production! Having garnered rave reviews and numerous awards for their runs in Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, D.C., this exciting hit musical is now running locally. Tickets are selling out so fast, that by opening night … The playhouse had already added two weeks to the run. Created, written, and directed with rock concert magic, by Randy Johnson, the audience feels and responds as if they’ve been transported back in time … and are actually at a Janis Joplin concert! As the legendary Janis, Mary Bridget Davies is beyond brilliant! Portraying the bawdy and brazen blues and rock singer, with a soulfully penetrating voice, she also lets us into Joplin’s heart … with life stories and fond family memories. Her likeness to Janis in gut wrenching vocals and appearance is remarkable, as she repeatedly drives the audience into a frenzy! All of the Joplin hits you know and love are covered, with spine-tingling emotion! Sabrina Elayne Carten is also amazing, depicting the African American artists who influenced Janis … including Bessie Smith, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin. As the background singers “The Joplinaires” … Tricia Kelly, Shay Saint-Victor, and Kimberly Yarbrough also offered chilling vocals throughout the show! The excellent 8 piece band backed the vocalists with pulsating passion and extraordinary skill! The expansive and eclectic set and moody lighting by Justin Townsend, powerful sound by Carl Casella, and trippy ‘60s/’70s costumes by Jeff Cone, added to overall vibe perfectly! The St. Patrick’s Day gala opening performance included a free outdoor community block party. Featuring hot live cover bands of the era, food trucks, a beer garden, and more, from one till ten o’ clock. You could even take a photo standing next to Joplin’s psychedelically painted 1965 Porsche. A “fab” time was had by all! This is a wildly entertaining and sizzlingly soulful slice of music history folks. Don’t miss it! Footnote: Sitting on my left was a friendly and attractive blonde woman, “rockin’ out” and obviously lovin’ every minute of the show. When we spoke at intermission … she turned out to be the Pasadena Playhouse’s new Executive Director, Elizabeth Doran. Working closely with Sheldon Epps, the savvy longtime Artistic Director … they are a theatrical dynamic duo! Expect great things to come! Running through April 21 at The Historic Pasadena Playhouse located at 39 S. El Molino in Pasadena. Running Tuesdays through Sundays. For tickets and showtimes call (626) 356-7529.

Mark Your Calendar

Marilyn – My Secret.
A World Premiere. Opening March 30 at Macha Theatre in West Hollywood.

Billed as a dramedy with music, we look into the controversial life of Norma Jean. Following her life from unwanted orphan, to bit player, to Sex Goddess … We also learn of her liaisons with both male and female lovers, including the reigning President of the USA at the time. Sounds intriguing! For early booking call (323) 960-7862 or go to plays411.com.

A Final Farewell to Gene Bua – Oct. 7, 1940 to

Nov. 17, 2012.

The Buas in recent years.

The Buas in recent years.

We enjoyed a touchingly memorable evening recently at The Colony Theatre … Honoring the remarkable life of Gene Bua, and hosted by his loving wife, Toni, 300 of his friends, family, and devoted acting students, gathered for a final farewell. Loving speeches, passionate musical performances, and personal recollections of this colorful “one of a kind” man, filled the night with love and fond memories. With overflowing champagne, and delectable food, provided by Burbank’s “Romancing the Bean,” everyone left with a poignant sense of closure. A handsome, “larger than life” actor, singer, and renowned acting teacher for decades in Burbank, at The Acting For Life Theatre … he is undoubtedly coaching the angels to “live their dreams” as we speak!

That’s all I got for this week, folks. Back next week with more theater chatter!


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