A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!


EJB Entertainment & Charles Aerts Concerts in association

with Ampersand Productions Ltd present

The (all new) Original Tribute to

The Blues Brothers: The Smash Hit Musical

Directed and co-produced by Brad Henshaw, AMPM Ltd

Tour Musical Director Steve Parry

Choreography by Debbie Jenner

22 Feb - 26 Feb

New Wimbledon Theatre

On tour till June 25

The New Wimbledon Theatre is huge, sumptuously decorated in Georgian and Italian renaissance styles. Filled with a sociable crowd of rockers and blues fans of all ages, it was buzzing with a cheery, music hall atmosphere as the three male stars of the show did a silent comedy routine before the music got underway. Everyone laughed, but they were here for the music and from the high energy opening 'Peter Gunn Theme' blasting out from a sensational seven piece band, through many of the famous songs from the Blues Brothers film, with bewitching dancing and soul diva singing from the three gorgeous 'Bluettes' and of course everything you would expect from Jake (Brad Henshaw) and Elwood (Daniel Fletcher) Blues, this is as good a show as you're likely to see in the West End or anywhere else.

As well as 'Everybody', 'Rawhide' and 'Shake A Tail Feather', the show features songs John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd - the original Blues Brothers - sang on 'Saturday Night Live' such as 'King Bee' and others they later took on tour.  We gain an insight into why the tour was called 'The Road to Ruin' when Brad Henshaw sings Randy Newman's 'Guilty', a song which seems to echo John Belushi's disappearance into the character of Jake Blues: 'It takes a whole lot of medicine, Darlin', For me to pretend that I'm someone else'. The keyboard playing on this song by Music Director David Foster was heart-breakingly good.

Every member of the cast was exceptionally talented. Alexus Ruth sang 'Think' with all the attitude and soul of Aretha Franklin but with excitingly energetic dance moves which made you wonder how she and the other Bluettes, each of whom had a solo number, could catch their breath never mind sing at the same time. Jocasta Almgill looked and sounded like a young Tina Turner and Victoria Goddard was equally strong. They all sparkled in a range of figure hugging costumes styled by José Schenk.

Luke Jasztal made an elegant Cab Calloway on 'Minnie The Moocher' and provided an interesting twist on the James Brown preacher role as an Elvis impersonator.  Inevitably, the Blues Brothers themselves were the real stars, turning cart-wheels like they were born to do nothing else but dance and sing the blues. On the slow numbers they demonstrated real singing ability and on the faster ones their comic timing and dance routines were perfect. They've had a lot of practise as this is a very extensive tour. The audience had no choice but to participate, singly and en masse, with dance routines and singing on 'Flip, Flop and Fly', a terrific Joe Turner number and it didn't stop there. It was a tonic to see old and young laughing and dancing with each other, caught up by the verve and soul of the music. A brilliant brass section got to shine individually, particularly David Mian on trumpet and Ricky Mian on Saxophone. Rufus Ruffell made his guitar talk. The whole band and the Bluettes were very much part of the show, both by dancing and participating in the comedy.
There were several members of the audience dressed as Blues Brothers and this is a tribute to them and what they achieved but if you've got soul, you'll love this show and you don't need the hat and sunglasses to shake a tail feather.





Friday 25 February - Saturday 26 February, 7.30pm
Box Office - 0844 871 7646



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