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The Blues Brothers: Xmas Special review at Arts Theatre, London – ‘knockabout, festive fun’

Joshua Mumby and David Kristopher Brown in The Blues Brothers: Xmas Special. Photo: Piers Foley Joshua Mumby and David Kristopher Brown in The Blues Brothers: Xmas Special. Photo: Piers Foley
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Hartshorn-Hook Productions has got Christmas at the Arts Theatre well and truly in the bag, with a dinner theatre adaptation of A Christmas Carol and this seasonal spin on their long-running musical tribute to the sharp-suited brothers in blue.

There’s an appearance by a tree and a few Santa hats, but it’s more of a light sprinkling of festive changes than a blizzard, with the most notable being the addition to the set-list of the Youngsters’ Christmas in Jail.

Elwood dresses as an elf, but only briefly. When it’s the Blues Brothers, you don’t mess with the image. Joshua Mumby, who directs and plays Elwood) has clearly taken this to heart, staging innumerable smoky, silhouetted moments of him and David Kristopher-Brown, as Jake, in distinctive, hat-and-shades pose. This production distils the film into a repeated handful of fan-pleasing visuals.

Mumby – bouncing around with breathless energy – and Kristopher-Brown do well at filling Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi’s shoes. The emphasis is on fun, and musical director James Robert Ball keeps everything ballsy, brassy and playful. Some dodgy audio muffles a few songs, but this gutsily performed revue, with all of the blues standards you’d expect, is as comfortably and familiarly satisfying as Christmas.

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Knockabout, festive fun with the brothers in blue in this film-inspired musical revue