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Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin and Sabrina Elayne Carten as Blues Singer in the Cleveland Play House production of One Night with Janis Joplin. (Pix by Janet Macoska/Arena Stage)

If you know and enjoyed Janis Joplin in the late 60s, early 70s, then you have just until Nov.4 to see DC’s Arena Stage’s production One Night with Janis Joplin.

It’s a good evening at the theater.

Actually, it’s largely a concert where Mary Bridget Davies sings many of Joplin’s best known songs, mixed with some of Joplin’s words and views on herself and life. Davies is energetic and recreates what Joplin presented in her very short lifetime.

In addition, Sabrina Elayne Carten plays the role of various blues singers and with her wonderful voice adds immeasurably to an understanding of what influenced Joplin as well as provides simply wonderful music.

The audience the night we were at Arena Stage (actually in their Kreeger Theater) joined in with Davies and with Carten, and at times it felt as if we were at a live concert (albeit with half the audience being middle age).

Randy Johnson, the writer-director, had the cooperation of the Joplin family and access to a great deal of material about Janis. Perhaps it is quarreling a bit, but what he chooses to present and to portray leaves out some of the more difficult and tragic parts of her life, but I guess that would have been a drama and not a concert.

Nonetheless, One Night with Janis Joplin is well worth the effort to see it.


(One Night with Janis Joplin premiered at Portland, Oregon’s Center Stage and is now on a national tour, which began at Cleveland’s Playhouse and will continue across the US and into Canada through 2014. So for those of you who live outside the DC Beltway and think MillersTime is only for DC folks, keep your eyes open for Janis/Davies in your area.)