PODCAST: An Interview with Mary Bridget Davies of 'A Night with Janis Joplin'

Monique LeBleu

Registered Critic, Writer, Editor

In this podcast, Tony-nominated Mary Bridget Davies of the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment Production's A Night with Janis Joplin talks on becoming a mother, performing from an early age, her work with Playwright and Director Randy Johnson, the evolution of the show from its roots to its Broadway stint, playing with Robby Krieger from The Doors, working on a new album with her band, bringing enigmatic and iconic Janis Joplin back to life once again at the La Mirada Theatre, and "singin' the blues."

Photo by Jason Niedle
Mary Bridget Davies stars in her Tony-nominated performance as Janis Joplin in the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment Production's A Night with Janis Joplin.

A Night with Janis Joplin features a healthy selection of Joplin hits—especially those with Big Brother and the Holding Company - as well as songs by such irreplaceable artists as Bessie Smith, Odetta, The Chantels, Nina Simone, and the late Aretha Franklin - the latter icons all interpreted by four additional vocalists in the show, along with a live band and horn section to help recreate a repertoire of blues gems.

Although she enjoys singing fan favorites like “Piece of My Heart” or “Cry Baby,” Davies said in the interview that she finds her best challenge with Joplin's version of “Maybe,” which she sings in the second act, and with “Ball and Chain.”

Born eight years after Joplin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles, Davies has been interpreting Joplin since she was in her teens. Like Joplin, whose Port Arthur, Texas vernacular Davies has mastered - she studied hours of archival footage of Joplin's interviews - she began with listening to and singing Joplin's songs and vocal stylings with her mother in her native Cleveland Ohio. Later, she would do more research and read the collection of Janis Joplin's letters and other correspondence that say so much more about Janis Joplin than any journalist ever has. (Did you know she was a painter?)

The award-winning actress has studied improv at The Second City (in Cleveland at the time) and is a member of the Something Dada Improv Group in Cleveland as well. In 2005, she toured with the production of Love, Janis, and has toured in Europe with Janis Joplin's original band, “Big Brother and the Holding Company.”

Davies has since received a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance as Joplin in A Night with Janis Joplin at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway in 2014, as well as winning the Theater World Awards and Theater World Awards for that year. Davis' band, The Mary Bridget Davies Group, released their album “Wanna Feel Somethin” in 2012, where she is currently working on writing songs for their next album.

A Night with Janis Joplin opens Friday, September 21, 2018, and runs through October 7, 2018, at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.  Visit their website for showtimes and tickets.

For more podcasts like these visit Better Lemons on Soundcloud.

Monique A. LeBleu/Event Editor and Contributor.