Christine Martucci Takes a Bow

Metromix, NJ

It would probably be fair to call the upcoming theatrical production "Breakfast with Janis" a "dream project" for Readington native Christine Martucci, because the first inspiration for the show came to her in her sleep over a decade ago.

"(The show) actually is based on a dream I had a few years back, (in) like 1996," Martucci revealed to Metromix Jersey Shore. "I was a young rock 'n' roll wannabe trying to climb up the ladder and going down the wrong path pretty much, and Janis (Joplin) came to me in a dream and we had breakfast together, and she told me that it's not about the drinking and the drugging, it's about the music, and that's what inspired me to write the play."

Martucci, a singer-songwriter with two studio albums under her belt, is about to see her dream become a reality: "Breakfast with Janis" will have a sneak-preview performance of its first act and a launch party on Saturday (July 18) at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. The show will also feature Garden State-based singer CC Coletti as Joplin along with the fretwork of New Jersey-based guitarist Anthony Krizan, formerly of the Spin Doctors.

Metromix recently spoke with Martucci about her show and the importance of Joplin in her life.

Before this show, have you had any theatrical aspirations or acting desires or anything like that?

No, and that's a good question, because basically I've always been just a singer-songwriter on stage to play rock 'n' roll music. But I was at the point in my life where (I was thinking) you know, "How many places can you play, how many songs can you write?"

I figured it was time to bring my creativity to the next level and give my fans something about what it's like to be behind the scenes, what it's like for a musician or a songwriter or any kind of artist, what you go through, the inner struggles and stuff like that. I felt that this was the time to do that and that I was strong enough now to tell my story and to do it theatrically. I may crash and burn or it may be totally brilliant, we don't know, but I'm a risk-taker, so that's why I wanted to do this.

How long have you been working on this show? I know you said you got the first inspiration in 1996, but how long have you been writing and rehearsing?

I've been writing it in my mind, in my head, jotting down notes, since 1996, but actually rehearsing the music and the actual script, we've been working on this ... I'd say it's probably about six months to get it, to fine tune it and stuff like that.

Can you tell me a bit about how you first got into Janis and her music and the importance her work has had on your life and career?

The first time that I really appreciated Janis Joplin was when I was really starting, because my background is mostly in R&B, Motown, horn sections, blues and so I was really into a lot of blues artists and stuff and women with very powerful voices.

So, out of that I started to grow up musically more, and I started to listen to Janis Joplin and really listen to her I would say probably like in my early 20's, and at that point I really started to appreciate her as she was an icon and the way she sang and the way she presented herself on stage. She was just so powerful and yet so vulnerable, and to me, I was like, "Wow, I feel that way too," and so that's what really attracted me to her. And her voice, I mean, my God, and just her stage presence, I always wanted to emulate that as well as a young singer-songwriter and to give everything that I have and leave nothing left on that stage at every performance, even if you don't feel well, that's what I try to do every performance.

Looking back over her life and career, you can see her as both an inspiration and a cautionary tale.

That's the reason why I'm writing this play; it's not about the self-destructive path that a lot of artists take. A lot of artists, they're so vulnerable and so self-destructive in a way, it's like, "I'm never good enough." You don't have to take that road. You don't have to drink a case a beer and party all night long to be a rock star.

You can just delve into your craft ... and that's what this play is about. (Janis) comes to me, not as the Janis Joplin that we all saw but the Janis Joplin that is a savior, so to speak. I call it "divine intervention," coming in and going, "Baby, it's not about that, don't remember me for that, remember me for my music, remember me for breaking down barriers and singing." I mean, she wasn't the only one that did; there were a lot of amazing African American blues artists that had come way before Janis, but that's where she got her inspiration.

So, she comes to me and we talk about that and we laugh and cry and do all kinds of crazy comparisons. But the message is that it's about the music, it's about your art and it's about your craft and that's so important that you're given a gift and you shouldn't blow it.

On this show, you're also working with CC Coletti and Anthony Krizan, so how is it working with those folks?

Well, C.C. and I, we're connected spirits, we're both rock 'n' rollers, women singers with strong voices and a strong passion for our music, so working with her has just been a joy. We've had a couple of rehearsals so far with her, she's going to be playing Janis (and) I'm going to be playing myself. She has not a very big role in the first act, but she is there and it may not be a big role in lines, but it's a big role in presence, and she's just perfect for it.

Anthony, I mean my God, the guy's just so talented and I'm actually doing one of his songs as the opening number for my performance.

And which song is that?

It's a song he actually wrote for Meat Loaf, it's called "Sin and Redemption." I said, "Oh my God, I love this song, I have to use it." So working with him, he's taken my music and put his production into it and it just (makes) it so much more exciting and my music comes more alive with his direction. So, the two of them together, I just feel very fortunate to have them both in my project with me. I'm very, very lucky to have them, and they're cool people, too.

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