The official website for “A Night With Janis Joplin” describes the late blues-rock singer as “a comet that burns far too brightly to last.”
It seems unlikely that the show is as cliched as that description. Its Broadway run in 2013-14 was short, only about 150 performances, and a planned Broadway run caused a mini-scandal when it folded two days before the slated opening night. But the show received solid reviews.
Its first national tour did well enough that a second one has been mounted. It opened in November and it stops at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota for one performance on Monday. The Van Wezel show was listed as sold out, but tickets are often made available closer to the day of the show.
One New York critic praised the show even while mocking the genre that he called “Boomer Reunion Illusion,” in which pop artists and rockers from the 1950s and ’60s come back to life on the theater stage.
The show has an ersatz Joplin performing such hits as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Mercedes Benz,” “Cry Baby” and “Summertime.” The show’s Joplin interjects the songs with stories about her life, and also showcases some of the singers who influenced her, including Bessie Smith, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Odetta.