ALBANY >> Randy Johnson is the creator and director of “A Night with Janis Joplin,” which, on Friday begins previews at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany.
After the run at Capital Rep closes in Albany on Aug. 7, the production moves to the Barter Theatre in Virginia.
“They don’t work. In fact if someone comes in with frizzy hair, wearing feathers and bellbottoms t is about a zero chance she’ll even get to audition. We don’t want someone to do an imitation of Janis. This is not a Madam Trousseau version of her career. We want someone who can show the audience the inner-Janis. It’s not enough to look like her. The person playing her has to understand the emotions she brought to every song. We prefer theater-based actors.”
He explains: “For every musical genius the foundation of their soul is found through their music. This is especially true for Janis Joplin because not much is known about her private life. Everyone knows how she died. What I want is to capture is her life.”
To find the real Janis Joplin, Johnson spent a lot of time with Janis’ sister Laura and her brother Michael.
“I turned off my phone and detached from the internet. Janis and I lived together for over a month. I learned she was a very wise woman, with a great depth of character. She was a painter, writer and singer. She was a woman who had a lot of stories to tell and she expressed her joy for life in meaningful ways.”
“Janis loved the blues, jazz and Broadway. She loved Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith. Once I came to that realization – the idea of including them in the show brought it all together. I decided to tell Janis’s story through her music and her influences.”
Kelly McIntyre who studied at the Hart School of Music and has toured with the show, plays Janis Joplin.
“A Night with Janis Joplin” begins previews on Friday at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany for a Tuesday opening.