BLUE Experience, Nelson

21/08/2020 - 25/08/2020

Nelson Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

What’s your favourite album? You know: the one you play on repeat, know all the words to, and never get tired of? For Sophie Ricketts, that album is Joni Mitchell’s 1971 masterpiece: BLUE.  

BLUE burst forth in 1971 and still remains one of the most celebrated records of all time. For Sophie, first introduced to the album as a teenager, it took on new significance as she left adolescence and entered her adulthood. Eventually becoming her most favourite album, just as it first mapped out Joni’s elation and heartbreak during her formative years it also felt like a blueprint of navigating adult decisions and independence for Sophie.

The poetic lyrics and intricate melodies were beautiful and tragic all at once, making an impression deep and lasting. Even more than forty years after its initial release, BLUE is still hailed as one of the best albums by music critics and fans the world over.

Sophie’s performance of Joni’s songs aims to delight old fans and introduce the album to a whole new audience, while also serving as a vocal love letter to Joni herself. Join Sophie as she takes you on a journey through the album’s ten songs and explains just what is so special about each one.

For a show which is one part musical tribute, two parts vulnerability, and 100% sincere, be a part of the BLUE experience.

Nelson Fringe Festival 2020 
Available online from the 21st to the 25th of August

Note: This show has been filmed and will be presented online.
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Theatre , Solo , Musical ,

50 mins

Clear, joyful and technically precise

Review by Lisa Allan 23rd Aug 2020

It is a strange time indeed, but strange times call for big hearts and Sophie Ricketts (performer) and Kimberley Wood (keyboard) bring these in spades to the Bay Landscapes Nelson Fringe Virtual Festival 2020 with their show, BLUE Experience. These are the final weeks for Christchurch’s Little Andromeda in their current location and Michael Bell has made the space available for the BLUE Experience creators to film the show that would have been playing live in Nelson (to a sold out crowd), had Covid-19 not stepped in. This filmed version is part of the Virtual Festival and it is this that this review is based on.

The staging is simple and nothing is hidden. The cords to the microphone and keyboard run through the set up, two home-made screens give shape to the space and I feel the magnitude of what these artists are being asked to do, to keep this Festival alive. I’m so thankful for their tenacity and adaptability. There is a small, socially distanced audience, who are vocal and appreciative throughout. Lucky them, getting such an intimate, private show!

BLUE Experience is an introduction to all 10 songs of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album (the fourth of nineteen, to date) Blue. Going into this show, I realise I know nothing about Joni Mitchell. As Sophie begins to sing, I sit back and let my education begin.

Sophie sings her way through the entire playlist in order, punctuating or prefacing each song with some trivia pertaining to Joni’s life. I eagerly soak up the information that Sophie has collected and enjoy the perspective and interpretations that she shares.

I piece together a picture of this incredible musician and realise quickly that these are not the kinds of songs you can listen to casually and gain the full experience. They invite a deeper connection. The lyrics are rich and the songs tell stories. Sophie’s voice is clear, joyful and technically precise. It opens a door to this whole world that lies waiting, for all who have yet to explore it.

I love the moment Sophie and Kimberley break out of their show structure to check in with each other and make sure they are on the right track. It is delightful and human and I would enjoy seeing even more of that, as these two obviously have a fun relationship.

If I have one criticism, it would be that I want more! Being a Joni novice, I crave a bit of context to kick-start my compendium. I would love to know a bit more about who she was and a bit more about the other people who are mentioned throughout. But I think a good piece of art inspires the audience to seek out information for themselves and to create their own relationship with the subject matter, and this show has certainly done this. Sophie, what have you started?!

BLUE Experience is a gateway to being a Joni Mitchell enthusiast. Blue has obviously touched Sophie and the heart she puts into sharing her findings and her experience with this album is infectious. Audience beware!


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