Wednesday, 1 May 2013

BLOOD BROTHERS (UK Tour) Review March 2013

Blood Brothers, the show that started it's life in school halls opened in the West End in 1983 and won that year's Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The production played more than 10,000 performances before closing in London at the Phoenix Theatre in November 2012. The UK tour however seems to be on the road incessantly.

Some of the cast from the 2012 UK Tour remain with the production whilst members of previous and  final West End cast now reprise their roles.

Maureen Nolan (Mrs. Johnstone) and Sean Jones (Mickey)

If you've seen Blood Brothers before the chances are you've seen a Nolan sister in the role of Mrs. Johnstone. Maureen, who had previously spent two years in the role at the Phoenix Theatre joins the 2013 tour as the superstitious mother of nine... that is of course, until she gives one away. Nolan gives a heart-wrenching performance who's evident sorrow is equalled in the harsh, coldheartedness of Tracy Spencer's Mrs. Lyons. The lonely housewife who cannot have children of her own convinces Mrs. Johnstone to give one of the twins to her. But you know what they say about twins secretly parted... if ever they find out the truth, they shall both immediately die. 

Sean Jones is Mickey and Mark Hutchinson is Eddie and has played the role in the West End, on tour, in Toronto and on Broadway for which he won the Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. What we have here are seasoned performers who understand every phase of the brothers' lives with initial humour and later desperation. Jones in particular wins audience affection with his "I wish I was our Sammy" speech. In the  meatier role of Mickey, Jones is also able to show his diversity through Mickey's adulthood decline into depression. 

Owing to the indisposition of Warwick Evans, the role of the Narrator is currently played by Tim Churchill who is the show's one man Greek chorus. He presents the themes of fate and superstition as he powerfully sings through Willy Russell's music and lyrics. Olivia Sloyan stands out as Mickey's girlfriend and eventual wife Linda as does Daniel Taylor who's presence is scarily commanding of the stage in the role of the aggressive and threatening Sammy.

As far as stage productions go, Blood Brothers is perhaps a dated production, but the themes and in particular, the song Just Another Sign Of The Times are unfortunately all too familiar and relevant today. Even though the eventual outcome has been set out from the start it doesn't stop your heart from beating tenfold as Mickey's gun shoots in the direction of his brother and childhood best friend. Better than a evening at Nymphomaniac Nights and Swedish Au-Pairs, a full standing ovation and applause long after the cast's third curtain-call, it's still like a first night.

On until Saturday 4th May at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, you can book tickets here

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