Michael Joplin Talks "ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN"
Tue, 09 Apr 2013 16:28:07
"It's like revisiting Janis for a couple hours on stage," says Michael Joplin of ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN. "She's there through her words, music, and influences."
It's true. The play is the best way to experience Janis Joplin's legacy up close and personal. Created, written, and directed by Randy Johnson, ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN pays homage to one of the greatest voices in history through focusing on what mattered the most—the music. With the endorsement of siblings Michael and Laura Joplin, the piece becomes a pastiche of her work that's equally intimate, inspiring, and invigorating. You can catch it at The Pasadena Playhouse through April 21.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Michael Joplin talks ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN, his sister's legacy, and so much more.
What was the genesis of this production?
My sister Laura and I had been talking about wanting to do an over-the-top show to remember why people liked Janis. Jeff Jampol at JAM, Inc. had known Randy Johnson and got it together. We sat down and clicked really quickly. It grew out of that. We wanted people to remember the music. Janis is remembered for a lot of things, and music is sometimes second.
So the idea was to place the spotlight back on her as an artist?
Yes, she has a story that people relate to more than just music with her folk hero aspects. Her tragic death is remembered, but the music is in the top three. We wanted to go, "Hey, this is why we're remembering here anyway!" The crowd walks out having had a great time. Where the music came from was very critical. Our family was very musically inclined, and our parents showed us a lot of styles.
You could never put Janis in a box or categorize her. How does that nature of singularity come through in the show?
That's a great question. Some of the stuff is through the character we call "The Blues Singer" because it shows the progression of her music and where it came from. At that time in the sixties, that transposing of styles and mixing of music was really coming to fruition. Janis came from a bluegrass and blues background. Rock 'n' roll was an odd thing for her. I think that fact comes out clearly when you look at the choices of songs she'd do. She wanted to be a beatnik. She didn't want to be a hippie. That set up an interesting dichotomy of what was happening at the time. They were all preaching free love, and Janis wanted to have a good time, which was a different type of thing. Having "The Blues Singer" adds a dimension to it that people didn't get before, especially when "The Blues Singer" does "Summertime". A lot of people even now don't know that was an opera. It's not Janis's song. It's fascinating.
What was your reaction to first seeing it?
It was right up the alley of where we wanted to go. That's what I dreamed about. I wanted people to experience the joy and the fun of Janis's singing abilities, skill, concept, and growth. That was really important to me and my sister. We wanted that to happen. Randy pulled it off. It was a lot of fun to go in and rock out. It's fascinating to watch the audience just start moving.
For tickets to see the play, visit pasadenaplayhouse.org.
What's your favorite Janis Joplin song?