Rarely is the advice “bring earplugs” given when attending a musical. But Kelly McIntyre, the title actress of “A Night with Janis Joplin,” recommends it to theatergoers for the Broadway musical.
“This is more of a rock concert than a musical show, so it’s best to come prepared to rock out,” said McIntyre.
For nearly two years, McIntyre has been the theatrical medium for the rock-and-roll spirit and songs of Janis Joplin in the Tony Award-nominated musical. The show will open with previews at the Laguna Playhouse on Wednesday, Aug. 16, with regular performances running Aug. 20 through Sept. 10.
The Boston-born actress and singer said she has enjoyed tfilling the shoes of the late rock icon since she was cast in the lead role for the first national tour in 2016. But McIntyre wants to make sure that audiences do not expect a Joplin impersonator.
“Janis being an icon obviously comes with a heavy task of doing her justice and not tarnishing her legendary pedestal,” McIntyre said. “So the hardest part for me is finding a balance portraying Janis in the way that the audience is expecting me to portray her, but also being myself. The director (Randy Johnson) didn’t want a Janis copycat. He wanted a musician-singer-artist who has Janis come through them. So there are still little bits of myself in there.”
Written and directed by Johnson, the original Broadway musical opened at the Lyceum Theatre in October 2013 and ran for four months for a total of 141 performances. The musical is presented in a narratoed form, with Joplin conversing with the audience about her life, musical influences and songs – including her biggest hits “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart” and “Mercedes Benz.”
“There are no scenes; there is no dialogue,” McIntyre said. “There are just monologues of Janis talking you through her childhood, her inspiration and her journey as she became who she became. As she brings up these different parts of her life, a musical number will happen fluidly through the story.”
Joplin also brings various blues, gospel and rock artists to the stage to perform songs from their catalogs, including Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith. Actresses Kristin Piacentile, Sharon Catherine Brown, Tawny Dolley, Carol Hatchett and Amma Osei take on the various roles.
“My favorite part is when I sing ‘Piece of My Heart,’ because it’s the first number in the show that the audience…