More Broad­way for the Burt?

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE - By Ge­off Kir­byson

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.

JOAN MAR­CUS / BONEAU / BRYAN-BROWN

Mary Brid­get Davies has the star­ring role in A Night with Ja­nis Jo­plin on Broad­way.

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