Broadway “Janis Joplin” Mirrors Star’s Singing Career by Kevin M. Thomas


Kacee Clanton as Janis Joplin

Kacee Clanton didn’t realize it, but she was born to play Janis Joplin.

She didn’t grow up on Joplin’s music but has always been a performer and loves to sing.

Constantly being compared to Joplin and, after taking on her first acting gig as Joplin in another show, Clanton got to learn more about the performer and realized they had a lot in common. “We both grew up with the same musical influences,” Clanton says, “listening to the likes of Nina Simone and Bessie Smith.” Clanton also says that after doing a lot of research on Joplin she can’t believe how “organically similar” she is to Joplin.

Until all of the comparisons started coming, Clanton says, “I really didn’t listen to her music a lot.” Of course, after discovering her music, she did become a fan.

kaceebydonipcockIn fact, in many ways she has almost become Joplin, having either played her in theatrical productions or touring with Joplin’s original band –  Big Brother and the Holding Company.  Actually, Clanton has spent the last 12 years taking on Joplin in one form or another.

She just completed a successful run at San Jose Repertory Theatre’s pre-New York run of this production and is now making her Broadway debut as the alternate Joplin in the new musical “A Night With Janis Joplin,” sharing the part with another actress as “it’s so grueling performing her songs eight times a week.” As the alternate to Mary Bridget Davies, the show in particular needs two people to play the role as it’s quite a strain  on your vocal chords, coming up with those guttural notes made so famous by Joplin. An alternate is different than an understudy as the alternate has scheduled performances. Clanton will do the Wednesday and Saturday matinees beginning Oct. 12.

Besides playing this part, Clanton hopes to finish her album. She says that since there’s been such an interest, she did release an EP of a few songs to keep people interested while she’s still fine tuning the rest of the record. This EP (extended play…like a mini-album) is available on her website

“Joplin” is in previews until Oct. 10 opening night. To get tickets and information on the show,  go to