Alongside the incredible performances and musicality behind the show, the sheer energy of the cast is uplifting in itself. The Blues Brothers are played by David Kristopher-Brown and Joshua Mumby, who also directs the show. The duo first performed together as the brothers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009, and have since perfected their roles. Mumby and Kristopher-Brown soulfully manoeuvre their way through a catalogue of the best-known Blues Brothers hits, drawing references to the various dialogues from the film. However, the show stays in the realm of a concert, rather than a fully fledged musical.
With flamboyant outfits, including festive numbers, harmonica solos, jiving and comedy, the show captures the heart and soul of the Blues Brothers. Kristopher-Brown’s version of ‘I’m a King Bee’, whilst dressed in the infamous bee costume, highlights the singer’s incredible vocal range and is one of the more comedic moments of the show. Through his sensational high notes and energetic dancing, Kristopher-Brown perfectly plays homage to John Belushi’s character, ‘Joliet’ Jake Blues. Mumby also proves to be a talented Blues Brother through his lively performance as Elwood Blues, with wonderful harmonica solos and strong vocals.
Despite not being a part of the dynamic duo, the star of the show is by far T’Shan Williams who plays a Stax Sister. Williams tears through sensational renditions of ‘Think’ and ‘Respect’, bringing powerhouse female vocals to the stage. Nevertheless, Sasi Strallen and Hannah Kee, who play fellow Stax Sisters, also put on electrifying performances alongside their female co-stars, prompting the name of the show to be put into question.
Simon Ray-Harvey plays multiple roles including Ray Charles, Louis and Curtis. Ray-Harvey encapsulates the spirit of Ray Charles throughout his uplifting performance, and offers moments of hilarity in his role as the pastor, proving to be an audience favourite.
The company perform stellar renditions of Christmas classics — ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’/’White Christmas’ are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. The Christmas tree decorated with cigarette packs and other mementoes from the 1980s classic reminds the audience that this is no ordinary Christmas show. At the end of the show, the audience are invited to stand up and dance along to fan favourites, ‘Soul Man’, ‘Flip, Flop and Fly’ and ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’/’Jingle Bell Rock’. The energy is truly infectious and makes for a terrific end to the show.
The Blues Brothers: Xmas Special will be running until 10th January 2016.
Arts Theatre, 6/7 Newport Street, London, UK, +44 20 7836 8463
By Gina Chahal