March 22, 2013
Out in Los Angeles, critics and audiences are raving about Randy Johnson’s “One Night with Janis Joplin,” starring Mary Bridget Davies as Joplin. Reaction to the show has been so positive — it has played to equally ecstatic reviews in Washington, D.C., and other spots across the country — that theater types say the Great White Way is “One Night’s…” next stop. It will play at Pasadena Playhouse until April 21.
For many years the story of Joplin’s short, tragic life has been optioned for various screen treatments. Nothing has ever jelled. I always say that the tale has already been told, under the title “The Rose.” This was a fictionalized version of Janis, but the similarities were quite obvious. Especially as “The Rose” was played by Bette Midler in what is the greatest dramatic performance of her career. The phone booth scene alone (you fans know what I mean) should have won Bette the Oscar hands down. Midler was nominated, but lost to Sally Field. No offense to the talented two-time Oscar winner, Sally, so great with Daniel Day-Lewis as Mary Todd Lincoln, but that year there was simply no comparison.
In any case, Joplin remains a fascinating figure, “The Judy Garland of Rock and Roll” as Rolling Stone rather cruelly noted. (Janis was not pleased with this comparison to the recently deceased Garland.) Maybe “One Night with Janis” will make it to Broadway and then finally the movies. Until then, we’ve got “The Rose.”