More Broadway for the Burt?
IF Kevin Donnelly has his way, the Burton Cummings Theatre will become a regular stop for Broadway shows.
The senior vice-president of True North Sports & Entertainment believes A Night with Janis Joplin, with seven shows scheduled April 5-10, as part of a 34-city tour, will be a sign of things to come for the 108-year-old venue.
“There are lots of shows that fit the stage size and audience size (at the Burt) that are fun and vibrant and lend themselves to a smaller, more intimate setting,” Donnelly says. “I think there’s a real opportunity for us to bring that kind of product to the building.”
The plan would return the 1,604seat theatre to its original roots. It was built in 1907 to host Broadwaystyle shows, ballets, operas and other live entertainment. It was converted into a movie theatre in 1945, but in 1991 it became a concert venue again after it was named a national historic site by the federal government.
True North took over the theatre’s management in 2014.
While Winnipeg has hosted many Broadway shows — The Book of Mormon was a big hit at the Centennial Concert Hall last March — Donnelly says A Night with Janis Joplin will be a rare opportunity for Winnipeg theatre fans to see an original Broadway cast without having to fly to New York City.
“We get high-calibre shows, but we get the American and Canadian touring versions, such as Les Misèrables, not the Broadway cast,” he says.
Mary Bridget Davies, who stars as Joplin, received a Tony nomination for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical when the show made its Broadway debut in 2013.
The show is billed as a “musical journey” celebrating Joplin and her biggest musical influences, including trailblazers such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith.
Joplin shot to stardom in the late 1960s thanks to performances as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. Her hits included Piece of My Heart, Cry Baby and Me and Bobby McGee. She died of an accidental heroin overdose in 1970 at the age of 27.
The show has the approval of Joplin’s family, Donnelly says.
“There are online video statements from her brother and sister endorsing the program. That alone provides the stamp of authenticity that people look for,” he says.
Tickets for the musical went on sale Friday at Ticketmaster. Prices range from $29.50 to $89.50 plus fees.
Mary Bridget Davies has the starring role in A Night with Janis Joplin on Broadway.