Sara Vickruck, Adriana Ravalli, and Kimmy Choi in the Firehall’s 2017 production of Circle Game. The show reinterprets Joni Mitchell’s iconic songs such as “Big Yellow Taxi,” “River,” “California,” and “A Case of You” through the ears and eyes of a new generation, connecting to the politics and world we know today. (Emily Cooper)

Circle Game re-imagines the music of Joni Mitchell in Chilliwack

Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell is a new take on the famous artist

Taking 29 songs from Joni Mitchell’s massive discography and reconceptualizing them, Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell is an endearing take on the musical influence and continued relevance of a Canadian legend.

On March 14, the Arts Club on Tour is bringing the music of Joni Mitchell to Chilliwack, and showing it through the eyes and ears of a new generation.

The “re-imagining” of Mitchell’s work comes mainly from co-creator and director, Andrew Cohen. His radical rearrangements of Mitchell’s classics give the songs a new sound as he speeds up or slows down the songs, rhythmically altering them and even redistributed the lines amongst multiple voices with innovative harmonies and counterpoints. Co-creator and director Anna Kuman makes his arrangements come to life through her imaginative staging and lively choreography.

As kids, they would listen to Joni vinyls while their parents would sing along, gleefully off-key, wondering what the fuss was about, explained Kuman and Cohen. Upon hearing her music again as young adults, they realized that the themes and images in her music were unlike anything they had heard before.

Nominated for three Jessie Richardson Awards, five Ovation Awards, and was the winner of the 2018 Ovation Award for Outstanding Professional Production and Outstanding Musical Direction, Circle Game is something incredibly special and not to be missed.

Delving deeper into Mitchell’s diverse canon and profound words, they became increasingly aware that this music, though written four or five decades previous, was so much more than simply the sounds of their parents’ generation.

Both those familiar and unfamiliar with Mitchell’s work will be able to relate to the words that remain relevant despite the years, as the cast connects her influential music to the politics and world we know today. Kuman and Cohen believe that anyone can enjoy Circle Game.

“Our hope for both the die-hard Joni fans and those less familiar with her work is that you leave preconceptions at the door and allow yourself to live (or re-live) the messages of her prose in this moment, in 2019, through the mouths of twenty-somethings,” says Kuman.

“We came to view this work as both a window and a mirror. The set, lighting, and wardrobe are predominantly second-hand— re-imagined from their original context, much like the music and lyrics,” says Cohen. “They originated before our time, yet we still feel a sense of ownership or stewardship. This experiment was born from the desire to create a piece that would both bridge a generational divide and posit their unresolved questions in a modern context. Just as Millennials have inherited the problems left to us by earlier generations, so too have we adopted their wisdom, warnings, and witticisms.”

From Mitchell’s iconic “Big Yellow Taxi” to “River” to “California,” Circle Game is a heartfelt ode to the entire catalogue of a Canadian icon. Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s a show that’ll leave you feeling closer to the songs that inspired and defined a generation.

Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell is coming to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on March 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets in Zone A are $45 for adults, $42 for seniors and $40 for youths. Tickets in Zone B are $39 and tickets in Zone C are $29. Tickets can be purchased at the Centre Box Office, online at www.chilliwackculturalcentre.ca, or by calling 604-391-SHOW(7469).

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