Kacee Clanton didn’t realize it, but she was born to play Janis Joplin.
She didn’t grow up on Joplin’s music but has always been a performer and loves to sing.
Constantly being compared to Joplin and, after taking on her first acting gig as Joplin in another show, Clanton got to learn more about the performer and realized they had a lot in common. “We both grew up with the same musical influences,” Clanton says, “listening to the likes of Nina Simone and Bessie Smith.” Clanton also says that after doing a lot of research on Joplin she can’t believe how “organically similar” she is to Joplin.
Until all of the comparisons started coming, Clanton says, “I really didn’t listen to her music a lot.” Of course, after discovering her music, she did become a fan.
In fact, in many ways she has almost become Joplin, having either played her in theatrical productions or touring with Joplin’s original band - Big Brother and the Holding Company. Actually, Clanton has spent the last 12 years taking on Joplin in one form or another.
Presently she’s in San Jose Repertory Theatre’s Broadway-bound production of “One Night With Janis Joplin,” sharing the part with another actress as “it’s so grueling performing her songs eight times a week.”
The run of “One Night” has been so successful that it’s been extended through Oct. 6. Clanton, though, will only be with the show through this Saturday night as she needs to go to New York to prepare for its Broadway opening. In New York, she will be the alternate Joplin, going on two times a week, which Clanton finds the best of both worlds as she can still perform material that she loves, but is also able to rest up.
In her time in San Jose, she’s grow to love the downtown area. “It’s very charming and you can walk to everything,” she says. While she’s lived in Southern California for awhile, her family is from the Bay Area. In fact, her parents lived in Morgan Hill for over 10 years. But she never was able to enjoy San Jose as much as she has since she’s been here for this production.
Besides the upcoming Broadway run, Clanton hopes to finish her album. She says that since there’s been such an interest, she did release an EP of a few songs to keep people interested while she’s still fine tuning the rest of the record. This EP (extended play…like a mini-album) is available at the San Jose Rep during her run or on her website www.kacee.info.
“One Night With Janis Joplin,” featuring Clanton through Saturday night, plays Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Saturday matinee at 3pm and Sunday matinee at 2pm. To get tickets and check when Clanton is performing vs. alternate Joplin, go to www.sjrep.com.