I hold my hand up, Blood Brothers is a show that I have seen on numerous occasions in the West End over the last 20 years and I was very disappointed when it closed in 2012. So you could imagine my delight when the new UK tour produced by Bill Kenwright came to the Assembly Halls in Tunbridge Wells this week.
Written by celebrated playwright Willy Russell, Blood Brothers tells the story of twins separated at birth, growing up in very different circumstances without knowledge of one another . When they meet they become firm friends. However the inevitable happens, life takes it toll and unfortunately the story ends with tragic circumstances, and trust me no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you are always shocked.
The beauty of Blood Brothers is that the story is seen through the eyes of the boys’ birth mother Mrs Johnstone who in this production is played by Maureen Nolan. She gave just the right amount of maternal warmth to the role. The Narrator, Marti Pellow (Evita) was harder to warm to, I wasn’t sure whether he was trying too hard to master the strong Liverpudlian accent or there was too much amplification but unfortunately often his words weren’t clear. Interview with Marti Pellow here
On the other hand the boys Mickey and Eddie played by Sean Jones and Joel Benedict respectively along with Danielle Corlass playing Linda was first rate. As they progress from seven year olds, through their teenage years and ultimately to become adults, their friendship blossoms. During the second act when things get more serious they surpass themselves and I felt a real sympathy towards the desperate Mickey.
The rest of the cast play a myriad of other characters with energy, gusto and a fair amount of spitting.
The score of Blood Brothers lends some of the best music that Musical Theatre can offer. From the lovely yet sad ‘Marilyn Monroe’, to the Superstitious ‘Shoes upon the Table’ to the childish ‘Kids’ Game’, I haven’t stopped singing the songs since I came out. Above all Nolan’s rendition of the iconic song ‘Tell me it’s not true’ was absolutely faultless and if anything persuaded the entire audience to spring to their feet at the end it was that.
The show does work exceedingly well as a tour. I do believe that there is something in Blood Brothers for everyone to relate to. It is not a tale of doom and gloom, there are a lot of light moments but is ultimately a story abut family, friendship and love marred by class and superstition. It was fantastic seeing the show again and I wish it all the best on the rest of it’s tour.
If I had one tinsey niggle, it was the programme, some cracking pictures of the casts from previous productions but if you would like to find information about the production and the uber-talented cast that you are seeing, I recommend you visit the website beforehand and hope it is up to date.
So – from the Website:-
Narrator – Marti Pellow
Mrs Johnstone – Maureen Nolan
Mickey – Sean Jones
Eddie – Joel Benedict
Linda – Danielle Corlass
Mrs Lyons – Kate Jarman
Mr Lyons – Tim Churchill
Sammy – Danny Taylor
Policeman/Teacher – Graham Martin
Donna Marie/Miss Jones – Laura Harrison
Perkins – Joe Sleight
Neighbour – Ryan-Lee Seager
Brenda – Lois Molloy
Bus Conductor – Graeme Kinniburgh
2 – 7 Feb Inverness, Eden Court 01463 234 234 Book online
16 – 21 Feb Hamilton The Town House 01698 452299 Book online
23 – 28 Feb Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 0844 871 7607 Book online
2 – 14 Mar Manchester Palace Theatre 0844 871 3019 Book online
16 – 21 Mar King’s Lynn Corn Exchange 01553 764864 Book online
23 – 28 Mar Hastings White Rock Theatre 01424 462 288 Book online
30 Mar – 4 Apr Croydon Fairfield Halls 020 8688 9291 Book online
7 – 11 Apr Cornwall Hall for Cornwall 01872 262466 Book online
13 – 18 Apr Cheltenham Everyman Theatre 01242 572573 Book online
20 – 25 Apr Shrewsbury Theatre Severn 01743 281281 Book online
27 Apr – 2 May Rhyl Pavilion Theatre 01745 33 00 00