Laura Branigan, the long-maned, husky-voiced pop singer who had a monster early-80s hit with the synthesizer-powered "Gloria," will join the cast of the Off-Broadway's musical tribute to singer Janis Joplin, Love, Janis, on May 22.
She will play the "singing Janis," alternating performances with Amy Jo Johnson, who comes into the show on May 10. The musical has always featured dual Joplins — a "talking Janis," who narrates the rock singer's story, and a "singing Janis," who belts out Joplin's blues-inflected songlist.
Branigan is no stranger to belting out pop tunes. In addition to "Gloria," her many melodramatic hits included "Solitaire," "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" and "Self Control." She recently returned to the concert stage, playing dates at New York's CBGBs.
Johnson, who juggles recording and acting careers, played a supporting role on the New York-set college drama "Felicity."
Another singer-actress of far more notoriety may join the musical in the days to come. A spokesman for the show said producers are in contact with rock star and sometime movie actress Courtney Love. The two sides are said to be "exploring" the idea of Love joining the production. Love first gained notice as the head of the hard-rocking Grunge band, Hole, but achieved far more attention (not all of it good), as the forceful, opinionated wife of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana singer and rock deity who committed suicide in the early '90s. The two had a child together. Since then, she has actively pursued a film career, appearing in "The People Vs. Larry Flynt" and "Man on the Moon."
Love, Janis turned one year old on April 22. The production plays the Village Theatre and currently stars Orfeh, late of Saturday Night Fever, and Katrina Carter, alternating as "singing Janis," and original star Catherine Curtin (who took a break to act in the Manhattan Ensemble Theatre's The Castle) and Amelia Campbell, taking turns as "speaking Janis."
Love, Janis: The Songs, The Soul of Janis Joplin was conceived, adapted and directed by Randal Myler. The show played the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island, in summer 2000.
For tickets and information on Love, Janis at the Village Theatre, 158 Bleecker Street, call (212) 307-4100. Also visit their website at www.lovejanis.com.
—By Robert Simonson