When Kacee Clantob first emerges onstage wearing Janis Joplin’s iconic hippie attire, I think, “Hey, she kind of looks like Janis Joplin.” When she begins to sing, I thought, “Damn, she really sounds like Janis Joplin.” That’s about all a person needs to know: this musical promises “One Night With Janis Joplin” and, thanks to Clanton’s near-perfect impersonation, it delivers. The raspy voice, the earthy stage presence and the passionate, bluesy wailing are gloriously impressed into songs like “Down on Me,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Me & Bobby McGee” and, best of all, a scorching rendition of “Ball and Chain.”

There isn’t much of a plot to speak of. In between songs, in dialogue peppered generously with the words “like” and “man,” Janis reminisces on her childhood in Texas, her whirlwind career and, above all, her musical influences. Biographical details are rather scant, with Joplin’s drug addiction and eventual, fatal overdose only vaguely hinted at. This isn’t entirely a bad thing: the show is intended more as a tribute to her music than as a detailed portrait of her life and, overall, it’s much closer to an actual rock concert than it is to musicals like Jersey Boys or The Buddy Holly Story.

The music is where this production really shines, not only in re-creations of Joplin’s most notable songs, but also in the music that inspired them. Tiffany Mann appears as “The Blues Singer,” a figure representing Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and other great names of black music. With “Spirit in the Dark,” Mann and Clanton even give us a fantasy Aretha Franklin/Janis Joplin duet. Also present are backup singers Cari Hutson (who plays Janis in select performances), Shinnerrie Jackson and Tricky Jones, as well as a fine band that includes guitars, drums and a horn section. The ensemble switches effortlessly from blues to soul to psychedelia—for example, when it comes to Gershwin’s “Summertime,” we get the jazzy Porgy and Bess version, followed by Big Brother & the Holding Company’s version, punctuated by Hunter St. Marie’s screaming electric guitar.

While the play has some thematic shortcomings, pointing these out seems like nitpicking in the face of such powerful performances by Clanton and company. Imbued with the raw power of a live rock & roll show, One Night With Janis Joplin will give any canned jukebox musical a run for its money.

One Night With Janis Joplin
Runs through Oct. 6 at San Jose Rep
408.367.7255 or sjrep.com