The Blues Brothers Xmas Special is currently showing in London’s Arts Theatre for a strictly limited run over the festive period. The show is essentially a tribute to the 1980 Blues Brothers film which starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd and featured many, many famous blues and soul artists of the era. This show features the music from the film with some added blues classics and some Christmas songs.
The production stars David Kristopher-Brown and Joshua Mumby as Joilet Jake and Elwood Blues, ably supported by Simon Ray-Harvey, Sasi Strallen, T’Shan Williams and Hannah Kee.
Mumby was fantastic as Elwood with wonderfully goofy dancing (characteristic of Elwood) and great harmonica playing. Ray-Harvey gave a standout performance playing various different roles, including Ray Charles singing ‘Shake Your Tail Feather’, James Brown with ‘The Old Landmark’ and Cab Calloway singing the crowd pleaser ‘Minnie the Moocher’. A star performance truly! T’Shan Williams sang ‘Think’, which was performed by Aretha Franklin in the film, beautifully.
Unfortunately, the show experienced some technical issues throughout the performance with sound, such that at times you couldn’t hear the singers for the band (who were all fantastic incidentally). There were some lulls in the show where we felt it lacked a bit of “oomph”. We saw a preview performance though, so once these technical issues are ironed out and the cast grow into their roles more, we think it has a lot of potential and is a good fun show for over the festive period. We’re keen to see it later on in its run when everything is running more smoothly.
The Arts Theatre is a small theatre in the heart of the West End. It is a bit rough around the edges and the auditorium is in need of refurbishment as the seats covers are ripped and uncomfortable. At the very least, it is in need of a good clean and some fresh paint! The theatre has been home to American Idiot, a very high profile and popular show, and could be a very nice venue.