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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / A Night With Janis Joplin

A Night With Janis Joplin

by Pasadena Independent
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- Courtesy Photo

– Courtesy Photo

July 21- Aug. 16 at The Pasadena Playhouse

By Terry Miller

Talk about Pearl Jam! A Night With Janis is back in town next week. The evening is conceived, written, and directed by Randy Johnson, with choreography by Patricia Wilcox and musical direction by Tyler Evans.

A Night With Janis Joplin stars Mary Bridget Davies, following her Tony Award® nominated Broadway run. Pasadena native Kacee Clanton, also from the Broadway production of A Night With Janis Joplin, will alternate the role of Janis Joplin with Davies.

Pasadena Independent had a chance to speak with Kacee Clanton Tuesday afternoon about her illustrious career and love of Janis Joplin.

What interested you most about portraying Janis Joplin in the first place?

KC: Actually, they came after me. It was just after Sept. 11 in 2001 … I was just a hippy-type Northern California girl years ago but I apparently sounded (and looked a bit) like Janis. It was a time when America needed some healing and Janis seemed to work out to do just that. It really is an athletic event to play the role of Janis … and about telling the truth. Those were some very tough days post 9-11-2001 but the music of Janis Joplin seemed to help in some way.

How do you prepare for the performances?

KC: A lot of vocal training. Intensive warm-ups (two hours before every show)! It really takes a great deal of energy [laughs] to do this but luckily I seem to have a lot of it. Vocal health is critical and I have to funnel my energy in the right way. Almost suspend reality.

When you get onstage, do you essentially channel Janis to get into the part?

KC: Kind of. This is one hundred percent completely honest. You cannot be insecure. You have to be truthful. That is the essence … Truth. When I get on stage – I get the audience’s energy and I get into the zone.

You’ve played this role so many times, but have you ever done the Playhouse?

KC: This is the first time in my career that I’ve played L.A. And Pasadena, my hometown. I can’t wait to get on stage next week.

I understand you toured with Joe Cocker for a number of years, which would account for your seemingly endless amount of energy needed to become Janis Joplin. We lost Joe recently; do you have a favorite memory of him you’d like to share?

KC: Boy, so many. I went to his home once in Crawford, Colorado and he took me out to his back garden where he had greenhouses with many varieties of tomatoes. People would give him tomato seeds on tour and he’d plant them. He had so many varieties. That was great, just Joe and myself taking tomatoes in Colorado. Nothing to do with the music business. Just plain truth.

Joe also didn’t realize that he waved his arms around so much on stage as he was in the moment and really experiencing the truth that was his music. He saw himself perform and said, “That’s not me, is it?’”

Really, Joe was playing the keyboards with his hands when you watch him.

You are a teacher at LA Music academy: What advice would you give young people who want to pursue a career in music and not get caught up in the madness that so often goes along for the ride.in the music business?

KC: Again, I teach my students about truth in yourself. Honesty is everything in this business and if you’re not truthful to yourself, your music suffers. Teaching the history of early Rock and Roll and how peoples’ lives get ruined by the temptations out there, it’s part of my job to help students see the truth about their craft.

cacce clanton as Janis-by Earl Gibson III

Kacee Clanton as Janis. – Photo by Earl Gibson III

There are tribute bands galore these days of icons from the ‘60s – what are your thoughts on this? Will there ever be another 1960s revolution, so to speak?

KC: It was a different time, indeed. The culture was different. Times were tough but easier in many ways. Not everyone was a YouTube star then. The root is truth in music and Janis and Joe and countless others had that truth … that inner feeling you instinctively know is different.

The costumes are brilliant from what I could see; are they from the Broadway Shows?

KC: Yes, oh yes … Amy the designer did an incredible job. They are wonderful. I was so happy when I found out we got to use these original clothes. They’re fantastic.

You toured as the lead singer in Janis’ old band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. How has this prepared you for the current gig?

KC: That was an incredible experience. Again this is where my truthful experience helps out. I absolutely, freakin’ love my life. Playing the role of Janis the woman and the singer is one of the best things I’ve done in my life.

Janis once said her favorite singer was Jim Morrison in an interview with Dick Cavett , even though she smashed a bottle of Southern Comfort on his head.

KC: I haven’t heard that Janis story. I’ll have to watch the Dick Cavett Show. There are so many stories I hear on the road.

The Monterey Pop Festival and her debut album in 1967 sent Janis into another hemisphere. Was is the music, the era, and the world that just needed Janis at that time … or was it sheer magic of the 1960s … maybe all of the above?

KC: Yes, that was an amazing time in history. One that can never be replicated. Janis was, again, all about truth. She lived it, she felt it, she sang it.

Thanks, Kacee Clanton, for your time this afternoon and good luck for the show, which start next week!

KC: Thank you. I play on the weekends and Mary Bridget Davies performs the rest of the week. It works out well for both of us. Come and say hi when you see the performance.

The acclaimed musical will perform July 21 – August 16, 2015 with the official press night on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. A Night With Janis Joplin is produced by The Pasadena Playhouse, Michael Cohl, Todd Gershwin and Daniel Chilewich in association with The Estate of Janis Joplin and Jeffrey Jampol for JAM, Inc.

Sheldon Epps said, “It will be a thrill to have Mary Bridget Davies on our stage once again along with Kacee Clanton, who also joins us from the original Broadway company. “

The unmistakable voice filled with raw emotion and tinged with Southern Comfort made her a must-see headliner from Monterey to Woodstock. Audiences will enjoy Joplin’s favorites, including “Summertime,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Cry Baby,” and “Me and Bobby McGee,” among others.

Pasadena’s own Kacee Clanton played Janis Joplin in the musical Love, Janis and was the alternate lead on Broadway in the original Tony Award® nominated production of A Night With Janis Joplin.

The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Joplin on Tuesday through Friday evenings at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Kacee Clanton performs the role of Janis Joplin on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sunday Evenings at 7 p.m. Mary Bridget Davies performs the role of Janis Joplin at all other performances. Tickets, priced from $55 to $150, are available online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org; by calling The Pasadena Playhouse at (626) 356-7529; or visiting The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office. On non-Performance dates the Box Office is open Monday – Friday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday – Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.. On Performance dates the Box Office is open Monday – Friday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday – Sunday 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit PasadenaPlayhouse.org.

- Courtesy Photo

– Courtesy Photo

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