For the Lovers of Rock:
Don’t miss the show “One Night with Janis Joplin” at the Pasadena Playhouse. Brilliantly written and directed by Randy Johnson, who previously created “Elvis in Concert,” “Patsy Cline” and many more (including directing my own show “Illusions”). He has worked with some of the greatest icons in the music business.
The staging is incredible, the lights and sets visually effective. The two divas, Salorina Elayne Carten (as a blues singer) and Mary Bridget Davies (as Janis Joplin) are amazing. Miss Carten, being an opera singer, sings the blues with a unbelievable voice and feelings reminiscent of many great singers of the past (from Bessi Smith to Nina Simone) and the velvety sound of her voice transports you to an era long gone.
Miss Davies is a singer of equal caliber to Joplin. She makes you believe you are hearing the real thing. She is earthy and dives into the character completely. It is no surprise she was awarded Best Actress by the Cleveland Critic’s Circle.
The first act, a mix of both stories and songs, was unbelievable. The second act seemed a little too long. It mainly contains songs aimed at fueling the crowd as though they were attending a real Joplin concert. But I missed the stories. If you can’t handle the loud music and the screaming of a rock concert, then the second act may be too much for you.
The opening of the show was last Sunday on St. Patrick’s Day, and for some reason they allowed a band with loud pseudo-singers to perform on a podium right in front of the theater. So between their noise and the Janis Joplin rock concert I ended up with a terrible headache. Still, however, I am happy to have seen the show.
It was a special added treat for us to see up close Janis Joplin’s psychedelically painted 1965 365c Porsche Cabriolet on display outside the theatre.
As skeptical as I was of seeing a show about Judy Garland without her in it, I was happily surprised after I’d seen this show. The performance of Tracie Bennett was superb. She not only sang the songs with Judy’s voice, she interpreted them in Judy’s way, which was the beauty of it all. All Tracie’s mannerisms and her physique really reminded me of Judy’s.
I’ve never seen a life performance by Miss Garland, but I’ve seen her on a video, and Tracie really captured her essence to perfection. I was wondering the whole time if Liza could have done that part? But … no answer came to me.
I was wondering, too, should we expose the worst or “heaviest” part of a famous person’s life? Should we not keep sacred the few icons of great performers from the past and remember them as they were at their best? But then I realized after my show, “Illusions,” where I dared to expose parts of my real life — the ones I never wanted to talk about — that the audience appreciated more what I had to say, and actually wanted to hear more about me and my life.
“End of the Rainbow” was a brilliant performance by Tracie Bennett, and directed by Terry Johnson at the Ahmanson Theatre (March 12-April 21, 2013). And here’s some advice for young singers wanting to impersonate a great singer: Do not imitate their way of singing. Try to understand why they interpreted the song in that way. And then see if there’s something inside you that you can pull out and use to interpret their song with the same feeling.
What people are saying about Irina Maleeva’s show “Illusions”:
“Your performance of “Illusions” was the most memorable one for me and my husband. I listened to the CD and it was a balm to my soul.” – C.A.
“Congratulations on a wonderful show tonight. The passion and emotion in your performance was really touching. It is a great story and it was told so well with the words and songs.” – S.M.
“By all accounts your show was just fantastic.” – S.H.
“You are amazing. Merci. We love you.” – S.P.
“There was so much heart and soul put into the performance and it showed. My friends were blown away.” – J.A.
“Everything about the show was outstanding; the music, anecdotes, stage setting. My husband and I really loved it. You have an amazing presence and a true connection with the audience.”
“I have been listening to your CD all day and again I have to compliment you for all the work you did. Your production team was stellar. Beautifully produced and your musical arrangement is off the charts. Absolutely beautifully done.” – H.K.
“I hope you can bring your show to NY and abroad, so many other people can enjoy your work”. – N.M.