American singer and songwriter Janis Joplin died in 1970, but her musical legacy has lived on for decades through her popular songs like “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart.” Next week the Penobscot Theatre Company will bring a tribute to Joplin’s music and life to the Bangor Opera House.
Bari Newport, producing artistic director for the PTC, said that the show, which closes the theatre company’s 41st season, is meant to be a fun send-off.
“We wanted to end our 41st season with a fun, big four-day party,” said Newport. When planning the tribute, Newport wanted to stay consistent with Joplin’s free spirit. The Opera House bar will be open throughout the night for its audience.
Karen Irwin, a cabaret star from Indianapolis, Indiana, will play Joplin.
“Since we started planning this show, I hear how much Bangor loves classic rock,” said Irwin, who is excited to perform her no-holds-barred show in front of the central Maine crowd.
The show is designed to tell the story of Joplin’s life as well as Irwin’s through Joplin, using her songs and telling both their stories to the crowd. “I guess to me, it’s kind of about finding your voice,” said Irwin.
Sounding like Joplin herself, Newport believes Irwin will “bring the walls of the Opera House down” with every performance and her “fierce energy.”
This isn’t Irwin’s first time performing Joplin’s music — she’s sold out performances in her home state as well as others.
Maine rock band Rock Revelation, lead by Heather Astbury-Libby, will open the performances. According to Newport, the Rock Revelation wants to show just how many female rockers have been influenced by Joplin’s works “from New York to San Francisco, to Bangor, Maine.”
“A Piece of Her Heart: A Tribute to Janis Joplin,” will be performed June 4 to 7, at the Bangor Opera House. The first three shows will be at 7 p.m. and the Sunday finale will be performed at 3 p.m. Tickets are $37 for subscribers and $42 for the general public, and can be purchased at the theater box office and online.