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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

"There are cults in Europe," Henshaw said. "People love to come see the show and come dressed as the Blues Brothers. It gives people a different identity. They can hide their selves through those hours and just live that time again."

Shortly after its premiere in a small seaside pub in Brighton, England, in 1991, "The All-New Original Tribute to the Blues Brothers" swiftly rose to fame, becoming an uncontainable sensation.

"Long before shows like 'Mama Mia' and 'We Will Rock You' and all those kinds of shows — those shows did not exist when Blue Brothers first came about in 1991," Brad Henshaw recalled. "This was the first of its kind, what was described as a hybrid."

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Believing the Blues Brothers concept would appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences, theater producer David Pugh and film director David Leyland took on the show, which opened in the West End only six months later that year. In fact, the show did so well that the run was extended from the original six weeks to an unheard of 46 weeks, playing to a total of 150,000 people.

Since then, the biggest Blues Brothers show in the world has frequently toured Europe as well as played four limited seasons in London. It has also toured Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In Sydney in 1993, actor Russell Crowe appeared in the lead role of "Jake Blues."

"The popularity of the show has never waned," Henshaw said. "It will be thirty years in March since John Belushi died. His memory lives on and we hope we are a part of that memory, because we hold very respectful and very humbly the roots of what we are doing."

If You Go

What: "The All-New Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers"

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine

When: Opened Wednesday and runs till Saturday.

More information: For tickets, which range from $25 to $45, and show times, go to http://www.thebarclay.org or call 949-854-4646 ext. 1.

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