BWW Review: THE CHICAGO BLUES BROTHERS, Savoy Theatre
Last night at the Savoy Theatre, audiences were encouraged to come and dance the night away as the Chicago Blues Brothers appear in the West End for the very first time. Performing a medley of Motown classics, their high-energy antics and over the top production values prove a little too cringe for most of the people in the auditorium.
Presented on stage is a mixture of unpleasant jokes, average at best vocals and messy choreography. The Chicago Blues Brothers - who are actually from Bradford and Leeds - are incredibly animated, but they seem too self-indulgent in their own performances to bring the audience along with them.
Appearing more holiday camp than high end, the energy in the room quickly dies. The show goes on and you can see people looking around awkwardly. They chat amongst themselves, check their watches and wait for a chance to escape. The bill promises that this show contains some of the 'finest entertainers working in modern musical theatre.' This simply isn't true.
The Sweet Soul Sisters who accompany the pair aren't in time with one another, which is strange because their movements are incredibly basic. One of them looks like they don't want to be there and the other two are going for things way too much. When they come out and sing as solo artists their voices are shrill and overworked. It's uncomfortable to listen to.
Doused in cheap costume and make-up, the entire production is all a little tacky and it feels like you're watching your drunken family up on the karaoke. Speaking of impersonation, there's something uneasy about watching a mediocre all-white ensemble sing songs primarily written and performed by Black soul singers. It feels a little too close to cultural appropriation.
The never-ending, extreme lighting seems like an attempt to cover up for the lack of substance on stage. The 'state of the art projection' is just a PowerPoint of photos. The only saving grace is the CBB Band, but even they have been covered with so much additional clutter that you can't really enjoy their performances.
It's certainly a night no one will forget, but for all of the wrong reasons.
Photo: The Chicago Blues Brothers