A new musical featuring the songs of Janis Joplin inevitably focuses on the voice of the actor playing Janis – it’s one of the most famous female rock voices ever. In the new musical Tomorrow May Be My Last, Janis is played by former Angry Baby featured artist Collette Cooper, possessor of a wonderful voice, and she did not disappoint.
Written, co-directed and co-produced by Collette herself, Tomorrow May Be My Last is set against the backdrop of a US music festival in the height of the Summer of Love, focusing on a key moment in Janis Joplin’s life. Through the songs we see Janis’ electric stage presence interspersed with the story of her life, superbly accompanied by musicians Jack Parry, Jan Simson and Daniel Malek and Star Eddy, Georgina Kingston and Damian Escayg, who double as dancers, backing singers and take on all other roles throughout.
Within minutes of the show starting, you see Janis stripped bare and this was so well done that I felt tears hover before I was once again transported into the fabulous world of Janis on stage. The ups and downs of Janis’s short life and even shorter period of fame are such that the audience knows what’s coming. The strength of the show and the performance mean that we remain hopeful that this particular story will have a happy ending. Audience participation is encouraged, we are the festival audience after all, and the performance of ‘Take a Little Piece of my Heart’ is joyful, with the audience singing along enthusiastically. This is such a high point that the announcement of Janis Joplin’s death towards the end is a hugely shocking moment, resulting in the whole audience sitting down rather suddenly. Luckily the joy returns for the encore and curtain call.
Collette Cooper is simply outstanding; in addition to the voice, her mannerisms whilst portraying Janis performing are such that she physically embodies the character. She remains on stage throughout, save for a brief moment but the weight of the show is carried lightly on her shoulders – as a one woman show it’s roaringly successful. This is a very short season and it’s to be hoped that the show gets picked up for a longer run elsewhere.
This was my first theatre trip for over a year and despite face masks and socially distanced seating, it was wonderful to hear and see live performances on stage. It was an uplifting experience.
Tomorrow Will Be My Last is at the Golden Goose Theatre until 29 May 2021.