Wednesday, 24 October 2012

BLOOD BROTHERS (UK Tour) October 2012

Blood Brothers, the first ever show I saw in the West End returns to Birmingham again on a seemingly never-ending tour cycle. The current West End version of the show is due to close in just a few weeks time in November. Ending its run after 24 years at the Phoenix Theatre it begs the question of whether Blood Brothers has had it's day. The audience at the Birmingham Hippodrome last night received the show rather willingly and the home audience for Niki Evans in the role of Mrs Johnstone were a welcoming delight.

Niki Evans from the 2007 series of the X Factor only entered the competition after finding the application forms intended for her in her late father's belongings. Her heartfelt, emotional audition saw her through the early stages and flying into the live shows, finishing in the semi-final. It is exactly the type of pure emotion she expressed in song during her time on the X Factor that makes Niki the perfect casting for the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone - a role she first played in 2009 in the London production.

A mother of seven children at only 25, Mrs. Johnstone learns that she is expecting twins. Already unable to cope and through fear of having to foster away some of her children she finds herself pressured into giving away one of the twins to Mrs. Lyons (Tracy Spencer), a rich housewife unable to have children of her own. A superstitious prophecy is born that if ever the boys discover the truth that they shall both die. The two leading ladies are impressive and played the more dramatic moments with conviction which can be incredibly cheesy and cliché.

Blood Brothers has seen a fair share of famous faces during it's run, especially pop stars. The Nolan sisters are no strangers to the role of Mrs Johnstone and Spice Girl Mel C played a brief stint in London. Member of boy band Blue Anthony Costa has played Mickey in the past but for this tour, Marti Pellow the lead singer of Wet Wet Wet has joined the cast as the Narrator. I have always thought of the Narrator's part as unnecessary - a tough role to master. The Narrator awkwardly lurks around the stage, watching the action and interrupts scenes when they begin to get meaty. He acts almost as a conscience and is always there to warn. Marti Pellow is a stern and commanding narrator and evidently does his best. I'm not all together convinced however that his vocal style fits comfortably in the role.

Sean Jones and Jorden Bird are the ill-fated brothers, Mickey and Eddie. It always takes great skill for the actors to convincingly portray the brothers at various ages in their life. Both manage their characters expertly and are both humorous as youngsters. They capture the different ages with clarity and ensure echoes of their childhood mannerisms are reflected in their later performance as men. When we meet the boys for the first time they are dolls wrapped in blankets but at age seven we see them meet each other, make friends and discover they have the same birthday - the story follows them through to adulthood with a dramatic climax, seeing Mrs Lyons' prophecy come true. 

In all, this production of Blood Brothers is well worth the night out. It's funny, full of energy and then dramatically tense the story becomes more despairing. I'm not sure it is a tear-jerking as perhaps it once was but what it is, is full of heart.

The current tour plays at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 3rd November and you can book tickets here:

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