After seeing A Night With Janis Joplin on Broadway in 2013, I was delighted to now interview Kristin Piacentile, the "Janis" alternate in The 5th Avenue Theatre's production of A Night With Janis Joplin. I adored this show so much when I saw it on Broadway that I've been eager to still get inside the mind of one of the actresses who portray or have portrayed "Janis." I feel like the Lord just bought me a Mercedes Benz! A Night With Janis Joplin plays through Sunday, April 17 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue Seattle, WA 98101). Click here for tickets!
1. You are currently starring in the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of A Night With Janis Joplin as the alternate Janis. What made you want to be in this show? I wanted to be in this show because it was a challenge. Vocally it's the hardest thing I've ever done, and I wanted to prove to myself and prove to others that I'm capable. And of course I get the added benefit of portraying a strong iconic woman in rock and roll!
2. During one of the performances, you had to go on mid-way through the show because Kacee Clanton got ill. What was it like to have to take over so suddenly and how long did it take you to win the crowd over? Because this show is so demanding both Kacee and I have to watch each other's backs. That's why there's two of us, it's a team effort to play Janis eight times a week. I did her Act 2 and then my own show two hours later. Yes, I was vocally tired, but I was ready because as an alternate that's my job. And the crowd didn't need winning over, they already love Janis and her music! Mine was simply a different portrayal.
3. Janis Joplin is one of the the world's greatest musical legends and this role has been performed by several actresses, so how do you make this role your own? I feel that Janis and myself have quite a lot in common so I can easily put myself in her shoes. It's not an impersonation, it's an interpretation. As long as we musically and physically lean in her direction, the rest I can just make my own.
4. What do you relate to most about Janis Joplin? What's your favorite Janis song you get to perform and what song do you wish you could perform, but is not in the show? Janis, though she'd been through a lot of hardships, loved to perform and connect with an audience like no other rockstar. To get the chance to go onstage and sing in front of thousands of people is exhilarating. All of her greatest hits are in the show, but my favorite song to sing in the show is "Maybe." It's the kind of song where you just lay it all out there and hope someone will come pick up the pieces.
5. In A Night With Janis Joplin, you do sing Janis' "Piece of My Heart." If someone wanted to get a piece of your heart, how would they go about doing that? Oh, that's easy. You'd just have to feed me.
6. Another song you perform is "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." When has there been a time in your life when you've been down and out, but kept it to yourself? How did you get through that time? This business is 99% percent rejection, so sure I've felt down and out. But I have to remind myself that it just takes one person to say "yes." And then it's all worth it.
7. Speaking of getting through things, on "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? One of my NYU professors said that everyday you should be doing something to benefit your career. And that's what I'm working on. Everyday I go to the gym, or learn a new song, or take a piano lesson, or read a play. Everyday I make sure that I'm doing something involved in the arts that can help the future version of myself.
8. What made you and your family want to start the Piacentile Family Foundation? My family has always had a generous spirit and was raised to believe in helping others. Both my parents came from simple backgrounds and feel tremendously blessed both financially and spiritually. The foundation is a way for them to give back.
9. How did you decide which organizations you wanted to support? Why did you want to support so many instead of just one or two? The foundation supports several institutions and entities that reflect the passions of my parents. My dad started out as a local musician and my mom was a back up singer. The foundation support is divided between the performing arts and social impact organizations, including organizations providing healthcare internationally wherever it's needed. My dad is on the board for the Cherry Lane Theatre and my mom is on the board of The Transport Theater Group.
10. Who or what inspired you to be a performer? What do you hope to do that you haven't done yet? When I was young my mom would play CDs of Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Phantom of the Opera, all sorts of things. I think it was those long car rides and the joy of singing along that inspired me to perform. And my dream and goal is to originate a strong female character in a Broadway musical. One day all the pieces will fall into place, I just have to wait.
Regional: The Wedding Singer (Holly), Urinetown writer's new musical ZM: A Zombie Musical (Eugene O'Neill Theater), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Silvia), Jeff Marx's new musical Home Street Home (Eugene O'Neill Theater and Z Space, San Francisco), Sweet Charity (Charity), Big River, Lost in Love: The Air Supply Musical (World Premiere), and All's Well That Ends Well (Helena). Proud member of AEA-SAG-AFTRA. Back up singer in Tony® nominee Lauren Worsham's rock band Sky-Pony.