Monday, May 18, 2015

Janice Joplin brings her amazing voice to the Fringe.

Andy Matchett the show's author and director invited me to a dress rehearsal for Janice Joplin, Little Girl BIue starring Kaleigh Baker.  The rehearsal was in Castle Door Recording Studio on Kentucky Avenue in Winter Park. This was the perfect setting for this show. From the moment I entered the recording studio, I felt like I had stepped back into the 60s.

 As I approached the sound studio on foot, I saw costume designer Sara Grey struggling to push a tall rack of 60's outfits towards the entrance. The wheels caught on every bump in the pavement causing her to have to pause every few feet to lift the rack up. Because of her I knew I was in the right place. I helped her get the costumes through the door. It turns out that Kaleigh and a band member had to perform at the Fringe opening ceremonies that night, so that gave Sara an hour to hand out costumes and make any adjustments. When Andy arrived, he offered me a Yuengling  before the rehearsal started and I felt the thrill of being in a recording studio with so much raw talent. I had sketched Kaleigh Baker before at smokey dives like Tanquerey's downtown and I knew that she is the one person who could sing like Janice.

The show presents an in-depth and passionate look at the life, music and untimely death of one of Music's greatest icons: Janis Joplin. Baker swells in volume as she moves from a solo rendition of "What Good Can Drinkin Do?" to an explosive 8 piece band backing her on hits like "Peace of My Heart" and "Get It While You Can". Laura Joplin (Amanda Warren) sat and spoke about her sister Janice. She painted a picture of Janice as a child that never fit in who was bullied and harassed by fellow students. There was a hint of envy in her words and I loved that Janice had overcome her past and her music helped her soar.

The scene that I saw rehearsed several times involved Jimmy Hendrix (Pascal Sacleux) taking the place of one of the guitarists on stage (Jeff Nolan).  In shock the guitarist walks off stage. The following instrumental performance blew the roof off. Hendrix exuded confidence and he made love to Janice with his guitar with wild abandon. By the end of the performance he lay the guitar on the ground and caressed its strings like an out of control lover. After one performance in which Janice sang her heart out, a band member shouted out "I don't know what that was, but it was out of control!" "Damn right!" I thought. "That was absolute wild magic!" I thought the scene had ended and I laughed and shouted in delight. The scene hadn't ended I had forgotten this was a rehearsal. For a moment I was in the studio with the real Janice Joplin and I wanted her to burn bright. I loved how she could let go.

Magic happened in the studio that night. Janice Joplin will blow your mind at this year's Fringe Festival.

Venue: Gold (in the Orlando Museum of Art)
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: 18 and up 
Remaining shows:
May 19  8:15pm to 9:15pm
May 22  10:00pm to 11:00pm
May 23  10:00pm to 11:00pm
May 24  4:20pm to 5:20pm

Tickets: $11 (+service. Charge)

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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