Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: Water, Water everywhere

There has been an abundance of water everywhere this week and I’m not just talking about the typical August torrential rain.

After the water tank split in the loft at the beginning of the week and the living room suffered a slow seepage of yellowy liquid through the ceiling, we were without hot water for a couple of days. This meant my only way to have a shower was to go to the gym. Now, I have been trying to get fit again recently (having lost years of fitness after changing from a career as a fitness instructor to the life of a deskbound journalist), but having to visit everyday (twice on Monday) just to make sure I was clean enough to ingratiate myself with local dignitaries, was a bit much even for me.

Luckily my London digs had a fully functioning water supply, so I was able to maintain my exemplary personal hygiene once I’d made my weekly commute to the capital.

And it was a good job too, as I had a really busy week of networking to fit in, despite the sometimes monsoon like weather conditions.

My first stop was to have a tour of the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham. I last visited the lovely little venue in June for their production of Sand Castles and was thrilled to be invited along to see their structural improvements and to hear about the plans for further refurbishment over the summer. I was also allowed to drop in on a rehearsal for their next production – Monty Python’s Spamalot  – which sounded amazing and I can’t wait to see.

After a hectic morning in the London office, I then ventured out to Kensington to watch a rehearsal of Flashdance – a new touring production of the musical adaptation – which starts a national tour in Glasgow this week. The show stars former Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton and 90s pop star Ben Adams. I got a chance to chat with them both and they were lovely. In fact, I’m a little bit in love with Ben. From the scene I saw – which included the famous water drop sequence – the show looks good too.

 

I then popped into central London to see The Blues Brothers Summer Special at the Hippodrome Casino. I have to say, it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but with lots of summer hits and beach vibes, it was nonetheless a good show.

I finished off the week in Lyme Regis at the Marine Theatre. I consider ‘The Little Theatre by the Sea’ to be my home venue, as it’s where I first performed as a teenager and it’s the place I credit with igniting my love of theatre. With it’s proximately to the sea, there’s nowhere quite like it and the homely ambience evokes such happy memories.

Next week I’m finally of to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the Duke of York Theatre and I’m heading to the Phoenix Theatre to see Evita (starring fabulous former green witch Emma Hatton). I’m also really excited to go to the launch of the New Wimbledon Theatre’s autumn season, which promises to be starry.

I’m also preparing for a new challenge as the entertainment reporter for the Sunday Independent newspaper. I’ll be covering theatre across the Southwest, so if you have any shows coming up, do get in touch.

You can follow me on Twitter for all the latest news @NickySweetland

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Review: ‘Perfect for fans’ ★★★ The Blues Brothers Summer Special, Hippodrome Casino

Since bursting onto the scene in 1978, the Blues Brothers have garnered a cult following and fans of the fictitious musical felons will get some much needed summer fun at the Hippodrome casino over the next few weeks with a new revue show celebrating the colourful couple.

The tribute to the characters – invented by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi for their Saturday Night Live sketch show – features some sunshiny songs alongside the classic melodies associated with the pair, which brings an added comedy element. Band members parade around in inflatable water toys dressed in neon Hawaiian outfits and songs like ‘Tequila’ and the Motown classic ‘Heatwave’ are given an upbeat rendering.

Leading the charge with an energetic portrayal of Elwood Blue is Joshua Mumby, who shows an exceptional aptitude on the harmonica and gallops around for the full two hours with gusto. His high-energy work helps him to not be too overshadowed by David Kristopher-Brown, as his brother Jake, whose straight-laced delivery coupled with outstanding vocals threaten to steal the show.

They are well matched by both Helen Hart and Hannah Kee as the Stax Sisters, who as well as providing backing vocals, also show their mettle with solo renditions of favourites including ‘Respect’ and ‘Proud Mary’, while Arnold Mabhena (in a very dodgy wig) performs with fervor as both an evangelical preacher and as the soul superstar Ray Charles.

I have to say, I didn’t get most of the references, but the majority of the audience were obviously Blues Brothers aficionados who sang and danced along throughout and so the production’s one misgiving – the lack of context and narrative – didn’t matter to most.

The Blues Brothers Summer Special is an entertaining evening of music, which is perfect for fans.

The Blues Brothers – Summer Special is at the Hippodrome Casino until 26 August 

We talk to the Blues Brothers about their party at the Hippodrome Casino this summer

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Back in 1978 Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi founded a revivalist band as part of their Saturday Night Live sketch show, writes Nicky Sweetland.

Called the Blues Brothers, the band went on to achieve huge success with the release of several albums and a critically acclaimed film, which reignited the careers of soul stars like Aretha Franklin and James Brown.

Led by a couple of colourful characters called Jake and Elwood (who were played by Aykroyd and Belushi) the band attracted a cult following. The popularity of the group inspired a tribute show, which has returned to the capital for the summer to play a limited run at the Hippodrome Casino.

Along with a gathering of celebrated blues and soul musicians, Joshua Mumby and David Krisptopher-Brown portray the delightfully devilish duo and I caught up with them during a rehearsal.

Joshua told me, “Jake and Elwood Blues are putting on their summer special at the Hippodrome casino. They’ve got together their band and their singers and are putting on a show for the people of London.”

The show – which Joshua tells me is a mixture between a concert and a musical – was first performed in Edinburgh in 2012 and enjoyed a celebrated run at the Arts Theatre with a Christmas special in 2015.

With its intimate atmosphere the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, somehow feels like a much more apt performance space for the Blues Brothers and Joshua said, “It’s exactly the sort of place that the real Blues Brothers would have played, so it’s really cool.”

Rather than feeling the pressure of playing such a famous pair, the actors are thriving on bringing the sound of the Blues Brothers to a new audience and Joshua said, “It’s wonderful to be able to continue what Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi did originally and try to bring this music to the masses. It’s great to be able to step into their shoes and the character’s shoes and lift that a little bit further.”

“They’ve been loving it.” David adds, “People are absolutely crazy for these characters and we want to do a great service to what they know already, but the characters are so good and so well written.”

The show is in residence at the salubrious central London venue until the end of August and the stars of the show are looking forward to sharing the fun.

“It’s all really good fun and it’s about entering into their world and having a good night.” Joshua said.

David explained, “It will be the biggest party they will ever attend. The musicians are ridiculously good. We love doing this show, we love performing the music and we cant wait to share it with everyone.”

The Blues Brothers – Summer special is at the Hippodrome Casino until 26 August 

Photos by Darren Bell

Blues Brother Joshua Mumby takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Trafalgar Square was rockin’ last month when the Blues Brothers took to the stage for West End Live. The show has returned to London for a summer special at the Hippodrome Casino and with its acclaimed band led by Jake and Elwood, audiences are in for a real treat.

Joshua Mumby plays Elwood in the musical spectacular, which features a whole host of soul classics including ‘Dancing in the Street’, ‘Soul Man’ and the song synonymous with the Blues Brothers, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’.

Joshua took some time off from rehearsals to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

The Blues Brothers Summer Special

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

Hard Work

What is your favourite Book?

Judy Dench’s autobiography

What are you currently watching on TV? 

Game of Thrones

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Theatre

What’s your favourite sweet? 

Crunchie

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

An Actor

 What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

That’s’ a really hard one. I don’t’ think I was a very naughty child but I guess annoying my sisters was probably the naughtiest thing I did.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

Performing at West End Live

What’s next? 

A holiday and then a pantomime. I’m playing Aladdin in Aladdin at Bradford Playhouse.

Blues Brothers – Summer Special runs at the Hippodrome Leicester Square until 26 August. 

The Blues Brothers returns to the West End this Summer

Rock ‘n’ Roll phenomenon, The Blues Brothersreturns to the West End at the prestigious Hippodrome for a limited, soulful summer special.

The Hippodrome’s 230-seat cabaret theatre will host The Blues Brothers – Summer Special, which is produced by Hartshorn – Hook Productions and the London Hippodrome and directed by Joshua Mumby, with choreography by Lily Howkins and musical direction by James Robert Ball. Full casting to be announced in due course.

Grab your shades and get ready to shake your tail feather because The Blues Brothers are making a sensational return to the London stage. 

The Blues Brothers – Summer Special is a supercharged, rock ‘n’ roll party, destined to take the capital by storm during its exclusive summer run at The Hippodrome in the heart of the West End. 

Featuring 20 of the most popular rock ‘n’ roll classics of all time – including Respect, Jailhouse Rock, Soul Man and Do You Love Me? – the show also includes some never-seen-before material created by the star of the original cult classic film Dan Aykroyd, and Judith Belushi. 

Brought to the stage by Hartshorn – Hook Productions, The Blues Brothers are backed by the sassy Staxx Sisters with the tightest rhythm and blues band in the city.

The Blues Brothers – Summer Special is at the Hippodrome Casino from 18 July – 26 August