It was during the mid-1970s when the famed comedians Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters) and the late John Belushi (Animal House) introduced the world to the characters of Jake and Elwood Blues during a musical sketch on Saturday Night Live.
The sketch proved such a hit that it led to The Blues Brothers movie in 1980, co-written and directed by John Landis, also behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, and then a sequel in 1998 titled Blues Brothers 2000 followed.
After a successful Sweet Home Chicago tour, Peter Tobit brings the new stage show The Chicago Blues Brothers to Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah this weekend. With the support of a 10-piece band, the UK tribute production promises the best of the original Blues Brothers movies with more than 35 classics from blues and soul, including Solomon Burke’s Everybody Needs Somebody, Rawhide by Frankie Lane and Gimme Some Lovin’ originally performed by The Spencer Davis Group.
“Having lived in Dubai for about 10 years, I knew this production would go down really well. It was a no-brainer,” says Tobit, who now lives in the UK. “Right from start to finish, the show is just one big party and the audience is expected to join in singing and dancing.”
The original movie follows the newly released from prison Jake and his brother Elwood as they go on a mission to save a school they had grown up in. To raise money, they form a rhythm and blues band while also being pursued by police and other enemies they attract along the way.
Also making an appearance in the original movie are Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway.
“The film became an instant cult hit and momentum has been sustained because [the audience] can escape reality by joining in with the lunacy, dancing and great songs,” says Tobit.
The spark between the two main actors – Chris Hindle (Joliet Jake Blues) and Gareth Davey (Elwood Blues) – is also paramount to the production’s success, he adds. Hindle has previously performed at both the Palms Hotel and Casino and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and as an Elvis tribute artist to a crowd of more than 60,000, while Davey has been an established UK solo artist and a musician since the age of 14.
“The whole show is about their chemistry and how they bounce off each other. One is mean and moody, the other a lunatic,” says Tobit, who also plays Fab -Calloway.
According to Hindle, who says he was drawn to the show through its “sweet soul music”, there will “only ever be one Jake and Elwood Blues”.
“Hold on Dubai, we’re coming,” says Hindle. “With the production aimed at people from 6 to 96 ... the music helps span three, maybe four, generations.”
As for Davey’s message to UAE audiences?
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” he says. “The production is much more than just the music. We make sure that people feel they’ve been to a party.”
Shades of black
Undoubtedly, one of the most recognisable elements of the Blues Brothers is their slick fashion sense. “The costume – hats, sunglasses, black suits, etc – were based on the early blues legends such as Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson,” says Tobit. “The show is effectively more than 35 great songs with links to make sure the evening flows.”
Having been involved in this production for more than 16 years, Tobit spent the first 12 of those years as Jake and acknowledges the fact that no show can enjoy progress or growth without embracing change.
“This production would be unrecognisable to the first. The future sees another incarnation and I cannot wait,” he says.
The Chicago Blues Brothers begins tonight at Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and continues until Saturday. Tickets cost Dh185 and are available online at www.madinattheatre.com as well as Time Out Tickets
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