Belfry Theatre re-mounts tribute to Joni Mitchell

Belfry Theatre re-mounts tribute to Joni Mitchell

I imagine I’m Fallin’: The Tracks of Joni Mitchell was produced exclusively for The Belfry by composer Tobin Stokes and director Michael Shamata.


Wherever: The Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Ave.
When: Nov. 2-26
Tickets: Shell out What You Can from or 250-385-6815

Bankable musical productions do not materialize out of thin air, and demand a long time of tweaks and adjustments. Just ask U2, Phil Collins, and Paul Simon, who all flubbed miserably with Broadway tune-and-dance showcases they created.

I Imagine I’m Fallin’: The Tunes of Joni Mitchell was a step forward of its competition, in that regard. When it arrived in 2016, it drew audiences and applause, many thanks to the huge expanse of Mitchell’s catalogue. With actors participating in characters borne from the tracks, the tribute — established in Victoria particularly for The Belfry by composer Tobin Stokes and director Michael Shamata — eschews convention by utilizing only Mitchell’s new music and lyrics in which to convey to the story.

It was a genius go, to the point wherever it could virtually be viewed as unfair. The 9-time Grammy Award winner, a indigenous of Fort Macleod, Alberta, is a Companion of the Purchase of Canada, Canada’s best civilian honour, and is consistently ranked as one particular of the ideal songwriters in history. In March, she was awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Preferred Music, for her life time contributions to well known music.

“She’s a songwriter who can put matters into terms that are so stunning but unavoidable,” says actor-musician Anton Lipovetsky, who appears in I Feel I’m Fallin’.

“She writes about her lifetime so specially, but when I pay attention to the music, I experience like she’s conversing about me and my existence. The greatest songwriters do that.”

In modern decades, Mitchell has come to signify one thing deified, and entirely unto herself. Her fortitude in the facial area of ongoing well being problems (which stem from a 2015 mind aneurysm) has developed an aura of infallibility and perseverance, and that led to various live performance tributes, showcasing all people from Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Herbie Hancock to Diana Krall, Graham Nash, and James Taylor.

Mitchell has also started carrying out all over again, after formally retiring from the phase a lot more than a 10 years before. “I bear in mind the past time [The Belfry staged I Think I’m Fallin’ in 2016], it didn’t seem like a great deal of an possibility that she would occur back again to performing,” Lipovetsky reported. “But she’s owning this return and it’s seriously heartening. The timing is realty wonderful for the display.”

The creation is propped up by a cast of operating musicians, which includes Lipovetsky, Linda Kidder, and Jonathan Gould, who all appeared in the 2016 generation (Hannah Mazurek and Chelsea Rose are new additions). The musical capabilities some of her very best-recognized do the job, but none of the singer-actors are aping Mitchell’s voice or mannerisms. Lipovetsky claimed it was his position as musical director to make sure the tunes felt authentic to every member of the solid.

“We’re always trying to make it tighter, additional impactful,” he stated. “But a single of the objectives is to separate the tunes from her recordings and performances. In our clearly show, what we test to do is make a narrative and reveal the emotional truths in the text as they stand on their individual. When the songs are stripped down, I experience you truly listen to the poetry in this bare and new way.”

When the musical debuted, Lipovetsky was 26 — the similar age Mitchell was when she wrote two of her most effectively-recognized hits, Major Yellow Taxi and Woodstock. With seven several years of personalized and expert knowledge betwen the two productions, Lipovetsky explained he now views the piece — and many of the songs therein — a lot in different ways now. The meaning of tracks like The Circle Game, Mitchell’s tune about “the question of ageing,” for case in point, have deepened, he mentioned. Views have shifted.

For that reason by itself, I Imagine I’m Fallin’ has been still left largely untouched in the seven several years given that it premiered. Only the song Two Grey Rooms, from Mitchell’s 1991 album, Evening Ride Property, has been added to the tracklisting of the remount.

“Normally, a musical like this can be terrifying,” Lipovetsky mentioned. “But knock on wooden, it feels like we’re truly well prepared. We’re actually ready for the audience.”

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