John Kelly by Austin Young

June 19- John Kelly in “Paved Paradise:Redux”  – The Songs of Joni Mitchell

“I felt like I was Huck Finn attending his own funeral or Jimmy Stewart in that movie where the angel walks him back through his life. I was braced for a lampooning, and I didn’t expect to be so touched”Joni Mitchell

John brought down the house at The Triple Door in 2008 and we expect no less from him this year! Ever since he appeared as Joni Mitchell at the very first Wigstock in the Fabulous 80’s, John Kelly has cast a spell of illusion that has continued to captivate audiences, including the subject matter herself, Joni Mitchell the poet, painter and singer.  In this loving homage John Kelly the award winning and extremely gifted performance artist inhabits the persona of Joni in a very intimate 90-minute journey through song and reflections on life.

The extraordinary Obie Award-winning actor and performance artist John Kelly is currently touring a new version of his highly acclaimed theatrical homage to the music of the legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. Paved Paradise has thrilled critics and audiences across the nation and now comes to Seattle for one night to the Triple Door.

The shows concept is daringly simple: Joni in concert, with Kelly on vocals, guitar and dulcimer, backed by piano and bass. The “score” is an array of songs from various stages of Mitchell’s career; the “book” is her actual words, culled from interviews and pirated concert recordings. Kelly’s musicianship satisfies even the most fanatic Joni-phile. The original arrangements, both acoustic and electric, are utterly intact, and Kelly’s spot-on, original-key recreation of her vocals is uncanny. This is no ordinary drag show. No less a critic that Joni Mitchell herself has been surprised by the impact of Kelly’s tribute. “I was braced for a lampooning,” she told The New York Times. “I didn’t expect to be so touched. I cried in two places.” She has become one of Kelly’s biggest fans.

The New York Times review of Kelly’s show exclaimed, “There’s drag, and then there’s transformation through spiritual osmosis, and that’s what John Kelly accomplishes with this tribute to the queen of the singer-song writers. . . Magnificent.”” And The Boston Globe raved, “Paved Paradise is either the gentlest sendup or the sharpest homage you’ll ever see. … Kelly doesn’t so much impersonate Mitchell as channel her.  There’s really only one word for the way Kelly plays with a famous, complicated persona and with our own ideas of the person behind that mask. It’s genius.”

Performance and visual artist John Kelly originally trained as a dancer with American Ballet Theatre and Harkness House for Ballet Arts. Wanting to extend his range as a performer, he also studied corporeal mime, trapeze and tight-wire technique and voice. As a visual artist he studied at Parsons School of Design and at the School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Kelly’s artistic endeavors extend to writing and directing along with his work in the visual arts, singing and acting. In 2001, he collaborated with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici as lyricist and director. He has recorded with Laurie Anderson and performed with the Blue Man Group, among countless others.
A two-time Obie Award winner for his acting, his long list of stage credits extend to Orpheus X at the American Repertory Theatre and James Joyce’s The Dead on Broadway. He has created more than 30 performance works, including Paved Paradise:The Art of Joni Mitchell.