The Blues Brothers Xmas Special at the London Arts Theatre
Not really a true musical, The Blues Brothers Xmas Special is more of an extended live tribute act to the cult classic 1980s Blues Brothers musical crime comedy. With little in the way of plot, Hartshorn Hook Productions instead put on an array of classic blues numbers performed back-to-back with a few comedy elements thrown in to keep some of the original film spirit. It’s a lively atmosphere and a fun night, but it lacks quite a bit of the charm of the original, coming off at times as a little amateurish, especially where the unpolished choreography is concerned.
David Kristopher Brown as Jake and Joshua Mumby as Elwood put in energetic performances as the Blues Brothers proper, dancing around stage and flinging themselves across the floor with gusto, but in truth they are rather outshone by the supporting cast. Simon Ray- Harvey as Ray Charles and the raucous gospel preacher injects real liveliness and his crowd-pleaser, Minnie the Moocher, gets the audience participation truly going for the first time in the show. Stax Sister T’Shan Williams without doubt provides the strongest vocals with her fiery covers of Think and Respect, and again stands out in the group performance of Higher, one of the highlights of the show.
Despite starting off slow, The Blues Brothers Xmas Special picks up energy and there is no doubt that the cast love the music. There are some standout moments, such as the delightful King Bee, in which Jake and Elwood come out dressed in bee costumes and get some genuine laughs; but the last 20 minutes of Christmas songs are by far the weakest portion of the show, perhaps enjoyed by Christmas lovers, but leaving the more Christmas-wary wanting. All in all, it’s an enjoyable time, and for blues fans, the full band deliver some soaring musical numbers that are bound to please.
The Blues Brothers Xmas Special is on at the Arts Theatre from 26th November 2015 until 10th January 2016, for further information or to book visit here.