Room 105: The Highs and Lows of Janis Joplin
Written and Directed by Gigi Gaston
Starring Sophie B. Hawkins
Presented by Tommy Thompson and Colleen Camp at Macha Theatre
If you’re in L.A., this is an absolute must-see. There you have it; that’s all you need to know but read on if you like. If you love Janis Joplin and real rock and roll, this is a must-see. If you love American 20th century history or gender politics or simply a unique evening out, this is a must-see.
A lot of reviews of Room 105 might include something along the lines of “Sophie B. Hawkins is Janis Joplin,” but that’s selling it short. Because this idea, this play, this performance deserves so much more credit than that; it’s not just a string of Janis Joplin songs held together by a thin plot. It’s not just that Sophie B. Hawkins works hard and sings her ass off from beginning to end. And it’s not just that it’s fun to hear Janis’ songs live (again). All of which is eminently true.
What’s additionally remarkable about Room 105 is that — after all these years and all our media savvy — it succeeds in enlightening us about things we did not know. About Janis, about ourselves, and about the hell of celebrity. (A good thing to note for L.A. habitués.)
Room 105 takes places in the Landmark Hotel where Janis stayed in L.A., where she died and where her best friend still stays when he’s in town (it’s now called The Highland Gardens.) The vision of Janis appears in Room 105 in the Landmark, only now in a 21st century world and with the personality and perspective she might have had had she lived and matured. Through storytelling, monologues, flashbacks, and song, Janis Joplin tells us what it was like to be bullied, to be a star, to die an addict. She tells us what it was like to be on stage at Woodstock, and why that hole of needing to be loved can never truly be filled. Kudos to Writer/Director Gigi Gaston for going deep with her material.
And what would Janis be without great musicians behind her? Pay special attention to the band — Josh Sklair on guitar, Daniel Pearson on bass, Corey Coverstone on drums and Ed Roth on keyboards — that sounds as though it’s been working together for years.
As a side note, you’ll have even more fun if you load up your Room 105 evening with some Janis Joplin preparation. Crank up Pearl, the album Joplin was recording at the time of her death and grab a bite at Joplin’s favorite watering hole, Barney’s Beanery just a few short blocks away. JJ carved her name in a table there and it’s still on display. Being in and around the L.A. that Janis loved will make Room 105 that much more enjoyable. Like a pearl in an oyster.
Make your ticket reservations by calling (323) 960-1055or online at www.plays411.com/105
1107 N. Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069
This theatre has delightful concessions.
Parking available in the lot.
Now through December 30, 2012 (no shows the week of Dec 14-16)
This production is already on a well-deserved extended run, but don’t take any chances. See it now so you can say you saw it on its premiere run.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Running time is about 90 minutes with no intermission.