Queenie van de Zandt brought me to tears last year singing What Kind of Fool Am I? at Twisted Broadway. She belts out big notes and handles lyrics with such a delicate sensitivity that you can’t help but experience every emotion she portrays. Her extensive career and expertise in musical theatre has brought us her alter-ego, Jan van de Stool. Van de Zandt showcases the ridiculousness that can come from self development programs through Jan: a totally unqualified person teaching totally irrelevant things.
Despite being around for awhile, Jan van de Stool came to the attention of broader Australian audiences through this year’s season of Australia’s Got Talent. She made it into the semi-finals but didn’t quite get through to the grand final, though has since revealed her plans for if she had. After all, Jan van de Stool isn’t just an International Musical Therapist – she’s a powerful medium and found herself possessed by ‘someone’ who enjoys belting out songs.
Jan admitted she was confused about why the Melbourne International Comedy Festival wanted her I Get the Music in You workshop in the program, but given her passion to help people, she stepped up to the challenge. As she says in the workshop, you don’t need a license to love.
Jan van de Stool has brought Woy Woy Scout Hall to Trades Hall’s ‘The Music Room’. It’s small and intimate, making it a perfect space for a provisional scout hall. As a past Scout, it felt familiar, complete with a portrait of the Queen and fleur-de-lis on the lectern. Add the announcement of the boiling urn with international roast coffee and some biscuits – that don’t buy themselves – and I was transported back to tying knots and badges.
Join Jan and some of her past students as they get the music in you, no exceptions. Jan will get it into you.
Be prepared to learn some crucial exercises that help ‘get the music in you’, such as the bell exercise, vomit exercise, interpretive dance and some very special diva moves. The bell exercise is a particular highlight – your donger becomes a very important implement to determine your tone. These exercises are undertaken from the comfort of your own seat, so don’t think this is ‘audience participation’ heavy.
Two bits of advice from Jan? People in glass houses can’t kill two flies with one rock, and that you should do something every day that scares someone. No preparation will get you ready for the other gems of wisdom that will come your way or Jan’s disconnect with appropriateness.
Jan van de Stool does not hold back. She’s blunt and hilariously offensive. Jan joins the line up of great Australian satirical personas, with audiences never quite sure if she’s serious or not.
As much as the music is well and truly in me, my face hurt from laughing so much. Van de Zandt’s comedic timing is pure brilliance. Becoming different characters with a simple turn and lighting change proved effective and allowed her to show off the impressive range and dynamics of her voice. Van de Zandt isn’t phased by audience contributions and will throw any attempt to derail her act back in their face, delivering hilarious adlibbed lines.
Queenie van de Zandt deserves every bit of praise she gets. This show has been around for over a decade in various forms and the exposure through television may just be the trick to reaching the next level of success across the nation.
It’s time for this marvellous comedic creature to make it bigtime. Loosen up, open your heart and voice, and let Jan get the music in you. But beware – don’t you dare steal any biscuits.