Hold onto your fedoras and grab your Ray-Bans, blues lovers — Jake and Elwood Blues are coming to Red Deer.
Those nattily dressed bad boys of R&B, The Blues Brothers, will be starring in a live, locally produced stage show called A Case of Blues, at The Matchbox theatre on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26.
Wild man “Joliet” Jake Blues (played by Matt Dale) is once more on the lam from the law, and his largely silent brother, Elwood Blues (Blaine Newton) is driving the getaway car.
“They figure The Matchbox is the perfect place to play because no one will find them in Central Alberta,” said co-producer Harley Hay, of the show’s premise.
The Blues Brothers’ first visit to Red Deer will include brushes with our kilted mayor, Morris Flewwelling, who will play himself in a short, tongue-in-cheek film. It’s all part of the fun of this part-concert, part-theatre, part-film presentation. “There will be a few more surprises in store,” promised Hay.
And, of course, lots and lots of great music.
In the guise of husky hot-head Jake and lofty and aloof Elwood, local actors Dale and Newton will be belting out plenty of Blues Brothers favourites, including Do You Love Me?, Give Me Some Lovin’, Flip, Flop, Fly and Soul Man.
They’ll be backed by an eight-piece band of local musicians, including Hay on drums and the show’s other co-producer, Dave Mousseau, on bass guitar.
While the heavy-duty R&B repertoire might tax other actors, it doesn’t faze Dale and Newton, who both have backgrounds in musical theatre.
Dale, a student at Red Deer College, was born long after the real Blues Brothers (played by the late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) debuted as musical guests on the April 22, 1978, episode of Saturday Night Live. (Belushi and Aykroyd were later Grammy Award nominated and credited for “blowing the blues wide open” by creating a popular craze.)
Dale admitted his dad was the real Blues Brothers fan — he just grew up listening to the infectious music.
The young actor, who was recruited sight unseen by the show’s producers, had no idea of his resemblance to Belushi, who died of a drug overdose in 1982 — until he dyed his hair jet-black and spent a month growing some mutton chop sideburns.
Now the resemblance is a little eerie.
“I was skinnying up before I got the role, then I had to go to McDonald’s a few times to bulk up to fill (Belushi’s) shoes,” confessed Dale, who’s also had to brush up on his cartwheels to play the surprisingly athletic character.
“It’s funny that the short, pudgy guy has to move more than the tall, lanky one,” he added, with a chuckle.
Newton, who sacrificed the moustache he’s sported for 20 years for the role of Elwood, couldn’t wait to don the dark glasses, fedora, black suit and skinny tie, saying Elwood’s physical look is the key to his character. “Elwood’s always standing tall and observing.”
While he was originally portrayed as the silent brother, Elwood got some lines in the Blues Brothers 1980 movie. But he’s still a man of few words. Newton said he has some familial reference points for the character, since his brother operates a blues bar in Winnipeg and his nephew fronts a blues band.
The Case Full of Blues show is the brainchild of Mousseau, a local musician and Blues Brothers fan, who always dreamed of putting together a band with a horn section. Since The Matchbox ran successful tribute shows for The Beatles and Motown, Mousseau called up Hay last spring to gauge his interest in resuscitating Jake and Elwood Blues.
He believes this all-ages show can be appreciated on many levels — including for the formidable band, which will not only feature two keyboards, but also a regular saxophone and a baritone sax.
“It’s such a full sound, it almost pushes you out into the audience,” said Newton.
Who: A Case of Blues: A Tribute to the Blues Brothers
When: 8 p.m., Sept. 25 and 26 (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)
Where: The Matchbox, Red Deer
Tickets: $25 by calling 403-341-6500
(A third show on Sunday, Sept. 27, is a possibility if the above two sell out)