Photo by Rudolf Becker Arianna Veronese as Janis Joplin in "My Janis.'

Just getting my rocks off.
~ Janis letting her friend know how she’s doing over the phone

Photo by Rudolf Becker
Arianna Veronese as Janis Joplin in “My Janis.’

My Janis is a brief, and I mean brief (the show was 30 minutes), introspective, private look into the singer’s broken spirit. In 1966, she returns to her parents’ home in Port Arthur, Texas to get herself together. Her dependency on alcohol and drugs have completely run her down. In Texas, she attends college and gets a part-time job outside of singing. In the meantime, she’s awaiting to hear from her friend Chet.

She rises from bed in a foggy haze wearing a velvet looking sundress and wipes strands of her long, brown hair away from her face. There’s a guitar next to her bed, ready in case inspiration hits, a suitcase with clothes spilling over is nearby. Clearly, she doesn’t plan on staying long. Between deciding to answer the phone or return to sleep, she picks up the call. It’s her friend Chet. He wants her to return to her former band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She’s somewhat incoherent because of the sadness in her voice. She sounds like she will lose it but maintains a brave façade from preventing tears coming down. The phone call resembles more of an intense therapy session instead of the typical, how are you doing conversation.
After the call, Janis slips off her dress and transforms into Janis Joplin. She changes into wine-colored bell bottoms, a turquoise long sleeve blouse with ruffles at the sleeves and a hole for her navel, with a low neckline. She adds a scarf tied around her slim waist and in one swoop puts on about 10 beaded necklaces that coordinate with her many bangles and oversized rings. She keeps it together long enough to sing her classic hit Mercedes Benz. Then, as she did in life, she fades away leaving the audience wanting more.

My Janis was one of a handful of shows at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival had that received an overwhelming praise and was extended for another week. Italian actress Arianna Veronesi did a remarkable job in capturing the late singer’s soul. She presents, although a talented Janis but also a self-doubting Janis with a lot of baggage. Drinking Southern Comfort and taking drugs aided her insecurities. But the music is what keeps her legacy continuing for a long time. Veronesi did an excellent job in evoking the rock goddess and showing her vulnerability without looking feeble. A beautiful portrait of a complex woman trying to do right, even if it kills her.