Tough Love

Janis Joplin's life has been a tug of war ever since it ended in 1970. The singer's fans have many opinions about who she "really" was. A new musical, Love, Janis, is based on a book written by her sister Laura, a woman widely thought to be a square and, as such, a prime suspect for whitewashing Janis' insistently unvarnished career and character. Reviews of the show say Laura comes through, however, with a complex, unflinching look at her sibling's quick rise to rock stardom and death from drug overdose not long after. The staging includes full-bodied renditions of crowd-pleasing hit songs ("Get It While You Can," "Piece of My Heart"), but it isn't coy or overly polite, noting even her bisexuality, a controversial subject then and now. Structured around letters Janis sent to her family, the musical is an interesting window on who Joplin might "really" have been.
Aug. 28-Oct. 22

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