On a mission from God — via Britain

Homage to 'The Blues Brothers' from across the pond rolls into Irvine Barclay for West Coast premiere.

April 05, 2012|By Heather Youmans
  • A scene from “The All –New Original Tribute to The Blues Traveler,” starring Brad Henshaw “Jake,” and Daniel Flechter as “Elwood”
A scene from “The All –New Original Tribute… (Jan Prins )

Once again, sporting their iconic hats, sunglasses, and suits, Jake and Elwood live on in the hit show, "The All-New Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers," which currently is making its West Coast premiere at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The critically acclaimed West End production has been upgraded for its U.S. tour, which features the original London cast with additional songs, revived choreography, and a brand new set.

The fully revamped production, which started touring the U.S. in the summer at the Chicago Auditorium Theatre, will wrap up its American tour in Irvine on April 7.

"This [America] is where it [The Blues Brothers] grew up," the show's director and writer Brad Henshaw said in a phone interview. "This is where it comes from. This is organically where it lives and reigns. So, it was a dream to come play in America; it was something that we thought would never happen, bringing this back home."


Henshaw also stars in the show as "Jake," alongside his fellow anti-hero "Elwood," played by Daniel Fletcher. The two-and-a-half hour, high-energy musical revue will be full of dancing, singing, live music, audience interaction, as well as parodies from Saturday Night Live (SNL) and the hit 1980 musical comedy film starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

"I've run into a number of people who have asked 'how much is it based on the movie?' "Irvine Barclay Theatre President Douglas Rankin said. "It's really not based on the movie, so it's not in translation of the movie onto a live stage. It's just inspired by the characters."

The production showcases decades of the duo's most memorable soul, blues and R&B hits, such as "Shake A Tail Feather," "Think," "Respect," "Gimme Some Loving" and the toe-tapping classic, "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love," which were pulled from all five of the Blues Brothers records.

In true Blues Brothers' tradition, the duo is backed by one of Europe's finest onstage, seven-piece bands, along with three soulful singers: Jocasta Almgill, Victoria Ekanoye and Victoria Goddard, appropriately named "The Bluettes."

"Their music is there for everyone," Henshaw said. "All of those great writers and performers; that music gave birth to what's around today. This is the stuff of legends."

Audiences, notoriously comprised of young revivalists and those who lived the Blues Brothers era, are encouraged to dress up and once again, bring to life the silver screen legacy of the Blues Brothers.

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