CIRCLE GAME brings the music of Joni Mitchell to life!

After touring North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Mission and Surrey, the Arts Club’s traveling show CIRCLE GAME stopped in Coquitlam last week. Playing in Coquitlam at the Evergreen Cultural Center from March 6-9, CIRCLE GAME is a “reimagining of the music of Joni Mitchellfeaturing many of his hit songs such as ‘Both Sides Now’, ‘A Case of You’ and ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. Along with many other stops on their BC tour, the magic of Joni MitchellThe music will reach audiences near and far.

I attended the last performance of CIRCLE GAME in Coquitlam on March 9th. As someone who only knew a few of the Joni Mitchell‘s, I walked into the show not knowing what to expect. I was very impressed with the mood of the stage when entering the theatre. Being in a smaller venue, there wasn’t much space for a very exquisite set; however, I think the show was able to use the smaller space effectively. The sets designed by Carolyn Rapanos featured two wall structures (one standing and one hanging) composed mostly of second-hand instruments. The intricacies of these fixed structures paired with the smoky haze and lighting dovetail perfectly with the carefree feel of Joni Mitchellis the music.

Overall, CIRCLE GAME was a different theatrical experience than the Arts Club musicals I’ve attended in the past. Unlike the usual “textbook” musical featuring the songs of a particular group or genre such as “Mamma Mia” or “Motown: The Musical”, CIRCLE GAME contained a minimalistic and irregular plot. Instead of a flowing story connected by each song, it seemed disconnected. Except for a few songs here and there that focused on the romantic relationships between the performers, it was hard to see how it all fit together. I was able to pick up on some plot points through acting and non-verbal cues from the performers; however, I would have preferred the show to incorporate dialogue between songs to better connect the audience to Joni Mitchellmusic and/or a possible script. Without a clearly obvious story, the show gave off more of a “concert vibe” than a “musical one”.

While the show may not appeal to those who are fans of “manual” style music and musicals, this show is definitely worth watching for the incredible talent of the cast. Featuring Samantha Bourque, Kimmy Choi, David Z. Cohen, Benjamin Millman, Scott Perrie and Adriana Ravalli, each performer brought something new and unique to Mitchell’s music. I was deeply impressed by the virtuosity each actor displayed over the multitude of instruments they played during each song. From guitar to drums to piano keys to a variety of unique percussion instruments, each actor’s musicality went beyond my expectations. In terms of vocal abilities, the cast did not disappoint. The quality and passion of each voice lent itself beautifully to Mitchell’s music. “Big Yellow Taxi” was my favorite song they sang on the show. Growing up, my parents used to play this song in the car on our road trips, so the song is close to my heart. The song was sung towards the end of the show beginning with Scott Perrie singing followed by the rest of the cast. Their enthusiasm as they sang the song brought energy to the audience and ended the show on a high note.

CIRCLE GAME is a show that moves away from the normal confinement of a “musical” and approaches it with a new look. Although it’s not for everyone, I appreciate the interesting direction the show has taken to celebrate Joni Mitchellis the music. The Arts Club‘s traveling show CIRCLE GAME will be presented at the Anvil Center in New Westminster on March 12 for the next leg of its multi-city tour of British Columbia.

Ticket prices start at $29 and are available at https://artsclub.com/shows/on-tour/2018-2019/circle-game. For more information on the show and its upcoming tour dates, please visit the Art Club website at https://artsclub.com/.

Photo credit: Emily Cooper


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