PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 5-11: Big Fish Splashes onto Broadway, Janis Joplin Gives Us Her Heart and Soul Doctor Bids Farewell

By Robert Simonson
11 Oct 2013

Mary Bridget Davies
Photo by Joan Marcus
"Mary Bridget Davies screeches up a storm as Janis Joplin," said The Hollywood Reporter. "When she throws her formidable lungpower and raspy emotional rawness into 'Piece of My Heart,' you could swear the tragic supernova known to her friends as 'Pearl' had been reborn." Newsday added, "Mary Bridget Davies has the lungs, the notes and the screaming moan in the back of the throat to suggest the real thing."

Still, critics had their complaints. Most found the tale that surrounded the music too staid and sanitized. "Where the script goes irritatingly wrong is Joplin's near-lecturing on the blues," complained The Daily News. "'I got the blues because I don't have my baby,' she says. 'I got the blues because I don't have the quarter for a bottle of wine, I got the blues because they won't let me in that bar …' Enough. She brings up the blues so much that she wrings the color and potency out of the idea and has you seeing red. Better to let the music do the talking."

Bloomberg observed, "The heroin-addicted, Southern Comfort-swilling, sexually ambiguous Joplin arrives on Broadway essentially stripped of her rough edges."

The New York Post, meanwhile, wanted to dispense with the whole genre of show that the show represented. "Enough of these baby­boomer-baiting tribute concerts trying to pass for Broadway musicals! Just months after the Beatles impersonators in Let It Be left town comes A Night With Janis Joplin — or more exactly, A Night With Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin, though that title wouldn't sell many tickets."


As expected, the American Repertory Theater production of All The Way, playwright Robert Schenkkan's new drama that stars "Breaking Bad" actor Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson, will transfer to Broadway.