Love, Janis That Much? Off-Bway Joplin Show Offers $100 Top Price

News   Love, Janis That Much? Off-Bway Joplin Show Offers $100 Top Price Off-Broadway's tribute to singer Janis Joplin, Love, Janis, will be in the company of Broadway's The Producers and Mamma Mia! when it raises its highest ticket price to $100.

Off-Broadway's tribute to singer Janis Joplin, Love, Janis, will be in the company of Broadway's The Producers and Mamma Mia! when it raises its highest ticket price to $100.

The 12 top-dollar seats will be situated in front of the stage at three tables provided with wait-staff service, a spokesman for the show confirmed. The new ticket price offer takes effect for performances beginning April 29 at the 406-seat Village Theatre.

Orfeh currently stars as the hard-rockin' Joplin, alternating with Kristen Lee Kelly. Amelia Campbell plays the spoken Janis.

The unusual-for-Off-Broadway pricing offer comes from the show whose top price of $80 was already comparatively higher than its downtown counterparts. The long-running Stomp and Blue Man Group top at $55 and $65, respectively. The popular new Jason Robert Brown musical — which is a two-hander like Love, Janis — tops at $65 as well.

The show will also alter its running schedule — no longer playing Tuesday evenings, but adding a Monday night performance. Tickets are currently on sale through Sept. 1. The budget-minded theatregoer can hope for a full house, as SRO tickets are $20.

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Love, Janis, initially hurt by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the general malaise affecting all New York theatre this season, was scheduled to shutter in October 2001, but the show was given a reprieve when Village Theatre owner Eric Nederlander gave the show a break on its rent.

The show is now well out of danger. A show spokesperson noted the show is the longest-running Off-Broadway musical of those that opened last season. The show began previews on April 10, 2001, and officially opened April 22 at the Village Theatre.

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 and began eyeing a New York run ever since.

The cast featured three Joplins, as it did in Sag Harbor. The original cast featured Catherine Curtin as the "private Janis," while Richardson and Mitrovich alternated performances as the "public/performing Janis." The double casting was presumably due to the rigors of Joplin's searing vocal style.

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Joplin rose to prominence in 1967 as the gritty, bluesy vocalist of the band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, wailing the lyrics of the hit "Piece of My Heart." She went on to solo success and scored a number one single with "Me and Bobby McGee" — although the song didn't hit until after Joplin had succumbed to a heroin overdose in 1970.

Myler previously told Playbill On-Line that the idea to do the show did not originate with him. Some years ago, Laura Joplin, Janis' sister, saw a show of Myler's about Hank Williams, Sr. Joplin approached him afterwards and asked whether he'd consider creating a show about Janis. "I said that I needed more of a hook than simply liking the artist," said Myler. "Then she said, 'Well, before you say no, we have this batch of letters.'" Laura Joplin then gave Myler a series of correspondences written by Janis from 1967 to 1970. "The letters were deep and intelligent and funny and sad," said Myler, who had only known the singer's hard-living public persona, having seen her perform several times when he was a teenager in San Francisco.

Myler decided to build the show around the letters. The missives start at the very beginning of Joplin's career. The first one, said Myler, reads "Dear Mom, I've hitchhiked to San Francisco. Don't be mad." Joplin had traveled to Bay area to audition for a band called Big Brother and the Holding Company. She got the job.

A figure from Joplin history was on hand at Bay Street to make certain the singer's material is justly represented: Sam Andrew, the lead guitarist and founder of Big Brother. Myler met Andrew when Love, Janis was presented in Austin, TX; the company had invited several of Joplin's friends to see the production. Andrew so enjoyed the show, he offered his services and Myler appointed him music director.

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 Ernio Hernandez
and Robert Simonson