Off-Broadway's musical tribute to singer Janis Joplin, Love, Janis, will turn one year old on April 22, and, a few weeks later, at an as-yet-unspecified date in May, welcome new cast member, singer and actress Amy Jo Johnson.
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 more attention (not all of it good), as the forceful, opinionated wife of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana singer and rock diety 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."
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.
Janis joined the company of Broadway's The Producers and Mamma Mia! when it recently raised its highest ticket price to $100.
The 12 top-dollar seats are 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.
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 budget-minded theatregoer can hope for a full house, as SRO tickets are $20.
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.
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 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.
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