Long before Joni Mitchell became known as the artist who taught Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually how to love, she’s been teaching people worldwide how to sit in their emotion and let the touches of melancholy of their lives wash over them.
One of those people is award-winning Queenie van de Zandt. BLUE: The Songs of Joni Mitchell is a show that’s been on van de Zandt’s mind for twenty years, she just had to find the right time to do it.
“Not that this is necessarily the right time either, after just having a baby!” van de Zandt added.
Writing and performing BLUE all with five-month-old daughter, Billie, has been challenging in wonderful ways.
“[Becoming a mother] makes your heart be completely ripped open. It’s almost uncomfortable but so filled with love and all these fears, anxiety, and everything just passes through you,” van de Zandt said.
“Singing Joni’s music in this raw, open state is moving.”
A stage extraordinaire, van de Zandt continues to bring her artful storytelling and raw, emotive vocals to audiences with what might be a sadder show than to be expected. After her alter-ego, Jan van de Stool, made waves across Australia thanks to Australia’s Got Talent, she’s developed a cult following.
BLUE lets van de Zandt step away from bringing the laughs in her shows, and allows her focus in on some difficult and challenging emotions through Mitchell’s music.
Noted as the female Bob Dylan – though van de Zandt prefers to call Dylan the male Joni Mitchell – these songs are where Mitchell expresses her sadness.
“She said that she paints her joy and sings her sorrow.”
Having sold out Brisbane’s Powerhouse, van de Zandt is ready to bring Mitchell’s music to Melbourne.
“BLUE is a fantastic show for winter – you rug up, you grab a glass of red wine and sit and be melancholy for an hour,” she said.
With such a rich life represented in such wondrous music, van de Zandt struggled to work out what to include and what to cut. BLUE intimately reveals the stories behind some of Mitchell’s most touching songs, such as “Both Sides Now”, “Little Green” and “A Case of You”.
“Her music is absolutely beautiful. It’s poetic storytelling,” van de Zandt said.
“It doesn’t matter if you know her or don’t. The show and the music is so accessible – her music is very timeless. The poetry is so engaging that it doesn’t age.
“If you love great music and great storytelling, that’s the combination we’ve got here and we’ve got a fantastic band with a very lush, beautiful sound.”
Queenie van de Zandt’s goal is that audiences will “skate around an hour of being lost in this melancholy music and come out of it realising its beauty, reminding them of their lost loves”.
If you’ve not been lucky enough to witness the greatness that is Queenie van de Zandt performing, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to do so in an intimate gig sure to be full of emotion and all the things she does so well.
BLUE: The Songs of Joni Mitchell is on at Chapel off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival Tuesday 27 June – Saturday 1 July 2017.
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Dates: Tue 27 June (preview) to Sat 1 July (five performances)
Duration: 60 minutes
Prices: $39 full price
$34 for concession-card holders
$34 for groups of six or more people
$29 for Festival Friends
Photo Credit: Greg Harm