PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: A Night With Janis Joplin — Woman Under the Influences

By Harry Haun
11 Oct 2013

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Davies' favorite moment in the show is not one of hers. "It's watching the girls sing 'I Shall Be Released.' It's so moving, and it's really transitional going into when Janis passed. It's kinda their funeral song for her, and then I come up to sing 'Me and Bobby McGee,' which was released posthumously. As an audience member, that's my favorite part, but really I have way too many favorite moments. I can't say just one as far as performing. I love when I do the scream in 'Piece of My Heart' and the crowd goes crazy, because I've given them what they want. That's all I want to do."

A song slated for that last album which Joplin never got around to recording, "I'm Gonna Rock My Way to Heaven," has found its way into the show — a gift from songwriter Jerry Ragovoy, who was working on it with her at the time of her death. He caught the show in Portland shortly before his death and volunteered it.

CBS's Gayle King in eye-grabbing red and Johnny Ramone's widow, Linda, led the parade of first-nighters.

Gospel and R&B singer Bebe Winans was present to support producers Todd Gershwin and Daniell Chilewich, who will next produce a musical about BeBe Winans and his sister CeCe and their transition called Where We Belong. "But I'm here also as a fan of great singers, and Janis was one of the greatest."

The featured bachelor nine seasons ago on ABC's "The Bachelor" (and still unhitched), Prince Lorenzo Borghese said he's starting to shoot a new but right-now-unnamed reality TV show in November.

Palling with producers Michael and Shelley Cohl, Amy Irving promised she's returning to the boards next month: "At the Signature, I'm in Martha Clarke's new show."

Mary McBride and Passing Strange's Heidi Rodewald said they're collaborating on a new musical piece while Rodewald finishes up The Good Swimmer and something called The Total Bent for The Public Theater that will open next September.

The great R&R songwriter Mike Stoller, arriving with wife Corky Hale, relayed his brief brush with Joplin: "Right after she did 'Ball and Chain,' there was a chance she was going to do 'Hound Dog.' Jerry and I wrote it for Big Mama Thornton long before Presley got ahold of it. It didn't happen, but I still loved what she did. I saw this show in Pasadena and loved it so much we're producers!"

Melissa van der Schyff and Claybourne Elder, who rode with Broadway's Bonnie and Clyde (in the backseat as Blanche and Buck Barrow), continue to be an opening-night twosome well after their show has closed. He has acquired extra wives, and she has acquired extra lives. "I'm off to Provincetown next week to workshop Sybil: The Musical," said she. "It's like 15 roles in one role. You can't go wrong. And Liz Callaway is playing the doctor opposite me." He's starring Oct. 28 at York Theatre in Six Wives, a new musical by Joe Masteroff and Edward Thomas, along with Nick Wyman, Judy Kaye, Alexandra Silber and, as Henry VIII, Alexander Gemignani.