Hilarious going Dutch
'You take your car for a tune-up. Why not your body, your soul … and all your other bits?''
According to the Dutch-Australian ''international musical therapist'' Jan van de Stool, people struggling to find their voice should imagine they are a bell. Then it's just a matter of hitting the side of it with your donger and making a big bong.
She's really the biggest weirdo in the room.Queenie van de Zandt
Anyone considering signing up to van de Stool's life-altering self-help course might consider packing some spare underwear, too, says Jan's creator, Queenie van de Zandt.
Two personas … Queenie van de Zandt ''gets it''. Photo: Kate Geraghty
''I've had audience members tell me afterwards that they actually wet their pants during the show,'' she says. ''One guy wrote to me saying he laughed so hard he snorted all the coke out of his nose!''
An actor, singer and cabaret artiste, van de Zandt is one of the most versatile performers in the country. Sydneysiders have seen her in Barrie Kosky's gruesome Women of Troy, Mike Leigh's witheringly funny Abigail's Party and upbeat musicals such as The Full Monty and Oliver!
I Get the Music in You is van de Zandt's comic side let out to play, with Jan van de Stool transporting her audience to Woy Woy's Scout Hall for her one-day beginners' course ''Open Your Throat, Open the Door'', which involves all manner of interpretive dance moves and creative vocal exercises, while Helen, her sidekick (and the Scout Hall's tea lady), plays piano.
''The audience are treated as though they are participants in the course,'' van de Zandt explains. ''But no one gets dragged up on stage. All audience participation is done from the comfort of their seats in a very non-confrontational way.''
The humour resides in Jan's brutal honesty, her unrealistic opinion of her own skills and her teaching in a heavy Dutch accent. ''She thinks she's so clever but she's really the biggest weirdo in the room,'' van de Zandt says. ''I think audiences love her because everyone has an aunt, or parent or neighbour, who has English as a second language. So much of Jan's humour comes from her misuse of language. And the other part of the comedy is that everyone is familiar with the world of self-help … they just really get the satire.''
This is the last chance Sydney audiences have to see van de Zandt before she heads to Melbourne for the start of rehearsals of the stage musical King Kong. US director Daniel Kramer and composer Marius de Vries have created the role of Cassandra - a psychic who can see impending disaster for the great ape and his captors - specifically for van de Zandt after seeing her heart-stopping turn in the sell-out Sydney Festival cabaret show Smoke and Mirrors.
''Cassandra has the ability to rip your soul out with her sadness and pain,'' van de Zandt says. ''It's a very, very big singing role and I'm really excited about it.''
I Get the Music in You, an evening with Jan van de Stool, plays at NIDA Parade Theatres, Kensington, from December 5-14. Tickets $30-$35, bookings 1300 795 012.