Belfry Theatre re-mounts tribute to Joni Mitchell

I believe I’m Fallin’: The Music of Joni Mitchell was created exclusively for The Belfry by composer Tobin Stokes and director Michael Shamata.


Where: The Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Ave.
When: Nov. 2-26
Tickets: Pay back What You Can from or 250-385-6815

Bankable musical productions do not materialize out of slim air, and require decades of tweaks and adjustments. Just inquire U2, Phil Collins, and Paul Simon, who all flubbed miserably with Broadway tune-and-dance showcases they designed.

I Believe I’m Fallin’: The Songs of Joni Mitchell was a move ahead of its rivals, in that regard. When it arrived in 2016, it drew audiences and applause, many thanks to the vast expanse of Mitchell’s catalogue. With actors participating in characters borne from the tunes, the tribute — designed in Victoria specially for The Belfry by composer Tobin Stokes and director Michael Shamata — eschews convention by applying only Mitchell’s audio and lyrics in which to tell the tale.

It was a genius move, to the place where it could virtually be regarded as unfair. The 9-time Grammy Award winner, a native of Fort Macleod, Alberta, is a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour, and is consistently ranked as 1 of the finest songwriters in history. In March, she was awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Well-known Song, for her life time contributions to popular new music.

“She’s a songwriter who can place things into phrases that are so surprising but unavoidable,” suggests actor-musician Anton Lipovetsky, who seems in I Imagine I’m Fallin’.

“She writes about her life so exclusively, but when I listen to the music, I experience like she’s talking about me and my lifestyle. The very best songwriters do that.”

In the latest many years, Mitchell has occur to signify a thing deified, and solely unto herself. Her fortitude in the encounter of ongoing health and fitness difficulties (which stem from a 2015 mind aneurysm) has established an aura of infallibility and perseverance, and that led to quite a few live performance tributes, that includes absolutely everyone from Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Herbie Hancock to Diana Krall, Graham Nash, and James Taylor.

Mitchell has also begun performing yet again, right after officially retiring from the stage far more than a decade previously. “I try to remember the past time [The Belfry staged I Think I’m Fallin’ in 2016], it did not feel like substantially of an alternative that she would occur back to carrying out,” Lipovetsky claimed. “But she’s having this return and it’s genuinely heartening. The timing is realty terrific for the display.”

The manufacturing is propped up by a cast of operating musicians, which include Lipovetsky, Linda Kidder, and Jonathan Gould, who all appeared in the 2016 manufacturing (Hannah Mazurek and Chelsea Rose are new additions). The musical options some of her finest-recognised perform, but none of the singer-actors are aping Mitchell’s voice or mannerisms. Lipovetsky stated it was his task as musical director to guarantee the tunes felt genuine to just about every member of the forged.

“We’re generally making an attempt to make it tighter, much more impactful,” he stated. “But one of the aims is to independent the songs from her recordings and performances. In our display, what we try out to do is build a narrative and reveal the psychological truths in the words and phrases as they stand on their possess. When the songs are stripped down, I truly feel you genuinely listen to the poetry in this bare and new way.”

When the musical debuted, Lipovetsky was 26 — the very same age Mitchell was when she wrote two of her most properly-recognised hits, Large Yellow Taxi and Woodstock. With 7 yrs of personal and skilled working experience betwen the two productions, Lipovetsky stated he now views the piece — and numerous of the tracks therein — significantly in another way today. The which means of music like The Circle Recreation, Mitchell’s song about “the surprise of aging,” for instance, have deepened, he mentioned. Views have shifted.

For that rationale on your own, I Imagine I’m Fallin’ has been still left largely untouched in the seven many years since it premiered. Only the track Two Grey Rooms, from Mitchell’s 1991 album, Night Trip Property, has been extra to the tracklisting of the remount.

“Normally, a musical like this can be frightening,” Lipovetsky claimed. “But knock on wooden, it feels like we’re really ready. We’re really prepared for the audience.”

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