The songs in Love, Janis--director Randal Myler's blast from the past--are far stronger than this musical's evasive text: singing them in effect returns the compliment of their creation, re-creating Janis Joplin. Considering how deeply she lived when she sang--and suffered when she didn't sing--that comes as no surprise. Alternating with Andra C. Mitrovich in the punishing role of the "singing," or public, Janis, Cathy Richardson matches Joplin in age, drive, and pyrotechnic voice--which, as Joplin admitted, bordered on screaming. She offers a cry for help in "Women Is Losers," a hymn to survival in "Piece of My Heart," and something almost serene in the ironic "Get It While You Can." Richardson also brings badly needed grit and backbone to the scenes with Catherine Curtin's weepy-warbly "speaking" Janis, a character who demands our pity too often. What Love, Janis offers nostalgic audiences is the performer they remember, not the woman who was killed by the excesses of her life. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, 312-988-9000. Open run: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. $25-$45. --Lawrence Bommer
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Liz Lauren.