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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      06.09.2012 23:19
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      A fantastic show, go see it if you have the chance!

      A few nights ago my partner, my mum and I all went to go see the show Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre in London. I LOVE going to the theatre, and will take almost any opportunity to go, so when a very inviting offer dropped into my partners e-mail account we decided to take it up and go see this show.

      Now Blood Brothers has always been something I would have liked to see, but wasn't at the top of my list of shows that I want to see right now. However, I also found out the show is closing in a couple months time - the last show is October 27th 2012. Seeing as this show has its last date announced it was kind of a now or never situation. The offer that my partner had been able to get was £10 (plus booking fee) per ticket. Pretty amazing, and also cheaper than the cheapest seats full price. The small catch with this though was that we wouldn't know what seats we would have until we got to the theatre on the day of the performance. We decided to go for it anyway, as like I say, a tenner is cheaper than the cheapest tickets full price, so whatever seats we ended up with would have been a bargain. In fact, we were very lucky. We got seats in the second row! We were on the far left (as you walked in) of the theatre, but being a bit to the side didn't affect the view at all. The way the set is laid out meant we could see everything that was happening on stage clearly throughout the whole performance.

      A little about the theatre itself - it is one of the smaller theatres I have been to in London, decorated in red and gold it looks amazing. A few framed posters tell you a little of the theatres history - what shows have graced its stage in the past. A few things to possibly consider if going to this theatre would include toilet access - same as many other old theatres there are not many toilets considering the amount of people in the building in one go - expect to queue for a while if you wish to go in the interval. Drinks are available at the bar, of course these are more expensive than your average pub, but you can pre-order interval drinks before the show starts to save time later. Another thing that you may wish to consider is disabled access for wheelchairs - we didn't need to worry about this, but I imagine some seating areas would be difficult to reach if you are a wheelchair user. Looking on the website I can't find any information relating to this issue specifically, but there is a number to call if you have any requirements that you wish to discuss.

      **Plot Summary**

      "So, did y'hear the story of the Johnstone twins?
      As like each other as two new pins
      Of one womb born, on the self same day
      How one was kept and one given away?"

      Blood Brothers is a very powerful story. The first act tells us about Mrs. Johnstone and her ever increasing brood. After her husband leaves her when she is pregnant with twins she is desperately trying to figure out how she is going to cope. Mrs. Johnstone works as a housekeeper in a local rich couples house, the wife of which is unable to conceive. On hearing Mrs. Johnstone's dilemma a plan hatches in Mrs Lyon's mind - she could pretend she is also pregnant and have one of the twins when they are born. Her husband is away for months for work, the timing is perfect. Mrs Lyon's will pretend she found out she was pregnant a little after he left, and the baby would be here just before his return. Believing this is the best option for her child, and that she would still get to see him, Mrs. Johnstone agrees. When the twins arrive though she really begins to regret this decision.

      "How swiftly those who've made a pact,
      Can come to overlook the fact
      Or wish the reckoning be delayed
      But a debt is a debt, and must be paid."

      The series of events that follow mean that the twins are brought up separately at different ends of the economical scale. Mickey is brought up poor, with his rightful mother. Eddie is brought up with all he could want in the world. Neither twin knows the other is his brother. The 'mothers' do their best to make sure the pair never meet - they are both very superstitious and believe that if one of the twins separated at birth were to find they were part of a pair, they would both die on that very same day. Fate seems to have different plans though and Mickey and Eddie become best friends. After finding out they share the same birthday they become blood brothers.

      As the boys grow up, the audience follows their story and experiences what it is like at both ends of the class system. We see the boys grow from babies, through their teenage years where they begin to fall for girls, and are generally just your average teenage boys, to adults and how they are coping with their working lives. This whole time the boys are still in the dark about their true identities.

      If you have seen this already, or have read the play by Willy Russell I'm sure you know how the story ends. I'm not going to give this away in my review though!


      The play has its comical moments throughout - I especially loved the portrayal of the boys when they were seven (nearly eight!). Along with the rest of the theatre we giggled at the boys playing Cowboys and Indians, and generally enjoying being young. The undertone is much more serious though and there are also several moments that tug at your heartstrings.

      The casts' performances were amazing throughout. Mrs. Johnstone in particular was amazing. She was on stage for the majority of the play, and her vocals were phenomenal. As an audience member we could really feel the emotion behind her lyrics. Mrs Lyons was also played really well. Being right near the front we could really see her emotions on her face. In fact, all of the cast members played their parts fantastically, and I loved that some had several parts to play. Unlike any other show I've seen in the West End, the narrator also has an important part to play. He doesn't personally interact with the characters very often; he's more like their conscience whilst making sure the audience is keeping up with the story. After all, a lifetime is a long time to fit in to less than 3 hours!

      I can't think of anything negative to say about this show. It wasn't the most advanced show I've seen in terms of set design, etc, but the story simply didn't need it. It was emotional - there were definitely a few wet eyes leaving the theatre, mine included. It had its comical moments. It was very powerful. The songs were amazing throughout - though probably not so amazing when I was singing them on the tube on the way home! As it is drawing to close I would definitely recommend going to see this if you have the chance.

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        11.10.2011 12:21
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        A good solid musical which will take you through a wide range of emotions.

        The current London production of the Willy Russell musical has been in it's current location at the Phoenix Theatre since 1991, but the show has been running in London since 1998 making it one of the longest running musicals currently showing in the West End.

        The story is a story of two brothers, separated at birth who become friends in later life despite being at opposite ends of the social scale in Liverpool. Mrs Johnstone is our main character and she is struggling to get by on what little money she has with the added strain of a large family. She is a cleaner to a wealthy woman who seems to have everything she could ever want, money, a good husband, the perfect house, but despite all of this she wants a child and her and her husband can't have one. Mrs Johnstone falls pregnant with twins and in a dramatic twist agrees to sell one of the boys to her boss, though this fills her with huge guilt. We zoom on a few years and the boys, now in the older childhood meet and become friends. Realising the effects this could have the wealthy couple move to the country where all seems to be well. Until the next twist when the Johnstone's move to the country, after being moved there by the council, and the whole situation is brought to life again. I won't divulge much else plot wise as I think the best dramatic parts in the concluding story are best unmentioned, but all I will say if you are of the weepy kind, take a tissue as this gritty piece carries on it's rollercoaster of emotions and the show's opening scene gives you a pretty good idea of what is to come

        I would describe this show as more of a play with songs rather than a full blown musical, but it is a classic which lives up to its hype. The characters are portrayed wonderfully with the adults who play the children doing an amazing job and the Mrs Johnstone character being played to perfection. This person playing this role changes on a regular basis, currently it is Amy Robbins, but recently it has been played but Mel C - ex spice girl, and Bernie Nolan who have all I understand done amazing jobs. The narrator is a pivotal role in Blood Brothers who appears with sinister intentions to keep the story flowing, interact with the cast and make them feel uneasy at times about the decisions they have made. I would describe this character as their conscience, but there are many different ideas about the narrator's role, so I will leave you to make up your own mind.

        The songs which intertwine through the play are of a powerful almost rock like quality with the most recognisable being "tell me it's not true", and are sung with great passion. But as I said to me it's more of a play with songs and though the songs enhance the experience hugely, you get wrapped up in the dialogue and gritty drama more than you would in a regular musical. I would recommend this to those from the ages of 14 up and also know it comes into GCSE coursework so well worth catching if you are studying it.

        Blood Brothers is on at the Phoenix Theatre, Nearest tube, Tottenham Court Rd. It's also worth noting there in a touring production doing he rounds at the moment well into 2012, so if you can't get to London keep an eye out near you as I hear this is also a very good production.

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          31.12.2010 13:57
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          Willy Russell's stage emotionally powerful musical performance in the Phoenix Theatre

          This time last year, I took my wife to see We Will Rock You for a 30th Birthday present. We went on Boxing Day and had a fantastic time. Although we were too far back to see everything clearly it was still a great show. Yesterday, we went along with her brother and his girlfriend to Leicester Square to see what was on cheap price, and Blood Brothers is something I have wanted to see for a long time. We picked up four tickets which were 7 rows from the front, for £30 a ticket, which is very good value considering their initial price was more than double. We were sat on an aisle, which is handy for my legs.

          The matinee performance started at 3pm, and the theatre entrance is down a side street and looks very cosy from the outside. The Phoenix Theatre has beautiful decor inside, and is actually quite small compared to the other theatres I have been to. The rich reds and golds and the beautiful chandelier really make you feel like you're about to experience something beautiful. When the lights went down and the music started, I was really in the mood, despite the usual exorbitant prices for a drink and a snack.

          Blood Brothers is a bit of a powerful emotional tale. Although it has elements of comedy and there are some laugh out loud moments, the majority of it is a heart wrenching tale. We kick off with Mrs Johnston, the lead role of a single mother with too many kids, so much so that she can't afford to have them with the meagre wage she gets from cleaning a rich neighbour's house. When she finds she's pregnant with twins, the rich neighbour's inability to conceive seems to present them both with a dilemma - one of the twins should be handed over at birth, the secret to stay with the two women.

          Inevitably, this causes more problems than are foreseen, and the two boys grow up destined to be kept in the dark about each other's true identity. Despite the efforts of both women, the tale is one of heart wrenching class differences and two boys who grow up each wanting the other's lifestyle, despite being the best of friends. As they go through various ages, from 7 year olds to teens to adults, the tale is whipped along with an impressive level of music, led mainly by the recurring Tell Me It's Not True, quirky Marilyn Monroe song and the narrator launching into the dark and powerful superstitious devil tune.

          On that note, although this is a tale of woe with some comedic elements, you've really got to hand it to the cast to deliver it. The main lead role of Mrs Johnston is currently being played by Maureen Nolan, now the fourth Nolan sister to star as the mother of the tale. The first act of the show is very much focused on her more than the other characters in terms of the music, and is a big test for the vocal chords. If anything though, I found that the first act, despite having its excellent moments and being a really interesting story, dragged a bit in places and I was willing it to have a bit more of a powerful edge to it.

          In the interval, we went to have our preordered expensive drinks and discussed it. My brother in law felt it would get a lot darker in the second half, and sure enough it did! As the curtain came up for the second act, the mood was instantly darker and you really felt like things were about to get interesting. They sure did, and I have to say that the music stepped it up a notch and the performers edgier too. The two unsuspecting twins, Mickey and Eddie, were played by Stephen Palfreman and Simon Willmont, and the two of them were excellent. It was amazing to see the two of them playing 7 year old boys - they did it brilliantly. However, it's as they get older and tension mounts that the acting really comes to the fore. Before this point, it's just good acting to provoke some laughs from the audience. Here, though, the emotional side of things comes through, and by the final roaring rendition of Tell Me It's Not true (led by Mrs Johnston and joined by the rest of the cast), the emotion really hits you. Suspense, drama and some thoroughly well performed music actually left me on the verge of tears, it was that moving and well performed.

          I loved the fact that the various supporting cast members played a number of various roles throughout the show, and the instant interchangeability and that fact that we could see the brief set changes as the characters brought on their own props meant that you feel more a part of it. The orchestra were up in the wings, and this meant there was more chance of being closer to the stage, but what often happened is that, because they had lighting up to top, the occasional riveting moment was disturbed by movement in your peripheral vision, a bit annoying but not enough to spoil it.

          Overall then, the only two negatives I had were the pace of the first act and the distractions from movements behind the scenes from the orchestra. Other than that, I was thoroughly entertained and felt it was great value for money. I think shows like this are often made by the performers - you'd like to think the play itself is quality, but the delivery has to be nailed. The cast here were phenomenal, and as they took their third encore of bowing to a deserved standing ovation, Nolan was visibly crying and the two lead actors, Palfreman and Wilmont, were drained emotionally. They really got into the characters and it was amazing to see.

          I'm so glad we went to see this. If you get the chance to see it, make sure you do. The Phoenix Theatre is beautiful, and the show itself is powerfully performed. If we didn't have other things to get on with, I probably would have suggested going to see another West End show, that's how much I wanted to carry on by the end. Not perfect, but would definitely see again. Recommended.

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            31.10.2010 03:00
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            A hidden Gem

            I was taken to this show against my will a few years ago and was utterly surprised at how brilliant it is. I visited the show in its London home on Charing Cross road, in one of the smaller, less showy of the West End's theatres.

            When I visited it had one of the Nolan sisters playing Mrs Johnstone, she was very good, I understand that Mel C of the Spice Girls has recently played her and think this is a fantastic piece of casting as she has the voice and range to more than do this integral part justice.

            Created by Willy Russell this is a stage show that is well known to drama students and perhaps doesn't get the credit it deserves in comparison to flashier more expensive rivals.

            The story is of twin boys, due to their poverty in Liverpool, Mrs Johnstone is forced to give one son up, during the show we watch the two boys grow up, fall in with different crowds and the story leads to an inevitable and tragic conclusion.

            The story follows Edward, the boy who is sent away for adoption to a better class family and Micky, the son who stays, it tells a tale of differences in social class, education and life, the songs play on this in a humorous diverting way, whilst the actors develop their class divide further.

            We see the Police react differently to the boys behaviour based on their class. The story is at times humorous, scathing in its depiction of British social classes and dramatic/tragic.

            Characters all suffer, not just the twins, whilst Mrs Johnstone constantly recalls what might have been in a beautifully played out sequence where she imagines herself as Marilyn Monroe. Micky and Edward are two sides of the same coin and their lives intertwine as they both want what the other has, be it love, security or a solid family.

            The story is told in an honest fashion with a narrator who cuts through the sentimentality to depict the tale unglamorously and delivers the bad news with relish.

            The songs are thoughtful, memorable and really pack a punch, this shocked me as I'd never heard them before, but they are excellent and utterly relevant to the plot, which isn't always the case. The cast were energetic, honest and eloquent, the whole show had a charm which some of the bigger shows lack and real class which most of the bigger shows lack.

            Great show, I got 2 tickets for £20 and I think the offer is still available today, definitely worth a look as one of those shows you really ought to see.

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              23.05.2010 11:53
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              Established musical which hits all the buttons.

              I have seen Blood Brothers six times - both in the West End and on tour - and I think it is a wonderful musical which offers both drama and comedy. For me its one of those musicals that is easily accessible in as much as it appeals to a wide range of people, including those who are not typical theatre goers.

              Essentially it focusses on the relationship between a pair of twins separated at birth who become best friends (blood brothers) despite being from opposite ends of the tracks. They are unaware that they are related and their lives are intricately linked from birth right through to their untimely deaths. There are periods within the show where I switch off a little - particularly I find the parts where the twins are very young children (always played by adults) to be a little long and unconvincing. However, these periods do provide humour and are necessary to the development of their relationship.

              However, the star of the show is always, without question, their birth mother who steals the show, especially in the last scene with the memorable and haunting "Tell me its not true" rendition. You'll be singing this song for weeks afterwards! I saw Lyn Paul in the role of Mrs. Johnston recently and I have to say she was the best Mrs. J I have ever seen. Her experience and passion shone through!

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                14.05.2010 12:11
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                5/5

                I went to see this with my boyfriend a few weeks ago in London at the Pheonix Theatre near Tottenham Court Road station. It was really good and we both really enjoyed it. We had never really ead the play or anything before but a friend had studied it at school and I remember her raving about it so we went to have a look.

                We bought our tickets on the day from a half price booth on Leicester Square. We paid £21.50 each for Grand Circle seats but when we got there it wasn't very full and we were upgraded to the front row of the dress circle instead. These seats were really good and definitely a bargain for £21.50. We didn't buy a programme but these were £3 and we took some of our own drinks which they seemed to have no problem with although there was a bar and places to buy snacks and drinks inside the theatre.

                The play was really good. I had no idea what to expect but it was brilliant. There was a lot of musical numbers and although the cast seemed quite small, it really worked. Lots of the songs sort of recurred which tied in the whole thing really well.

                The story centred around a single mother who worked hard to keep her family above water in a poor estate in Liverpool and her children sort of got up to no good. When she already had 7 children she was found pregnant with twins and the lady she was a cleaner for persuaded her to give one to her once they were born as she was unable to conceive and her husband was away so would believe the miracle.

                It was said that splitting twins up is a bad idea and when they meet and realise they will both die. They do meet, Mickey (the poor one) and Edward (the rich one) and they actually become best friends, blood brothers. Their parents are always trying to spilt them up and Edwards family moves away but they keep finding each other.

                The story is really sad, there is a lot of depression and recession and Mikey marries his childhood sweetheart Linda but goes to jail for helping his brother when he loses his job and needs money and his brother offers him £50 for being a lookout while he kills someone. In jail he gets addicted to medication which tears him and Linda apart.

                Edward meanwhile is very rich and posh and goes to university and comes back a bit changed and even posher. Linda turns to him for help, such as with a house (Edward is on the council) and then Mickey gets jealous and blames Edward for loads of things, and then in the end, their Mother tells that they are twins, and they both die. I don't know really who kills who but I think that Mickey kills Edward and then the police kill Mickey. It just shows that it was true, when they found out they were twins, they both died.

                The actors were all really good and my favourite bits were when they were acting as children as they were really good and funny and they really got into it so that shows how good the actors and casting people are. The sinister shadow/narrator man was also really good and I liked the way all the props moved about, it was just really clever and seamless. I totally recommend it to anyone, even if you aren't sure about musicals because it was really really good!

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                  14.04.2010 13:39
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                  A great show

                  I studied Blood Brothers at school and went to see it years ago in the West End - and loved it. I have meaning to go and see it again for years and finally managed to see the touring production last night at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't live up to teenage memories or be as good as the West End version - I shouldn't have worried!

                  Blood Brothers is a Willy Russell musical set in early 1980s Liverpool. It tells the story of twins seperated at birth and the tragic consequences of this. Mrs Johnstone (Lyn Paul) is single mum to several rag-tag kids, pregnant again and thinking her little cleaning job will keep them afloat.

                  Finding out she is expecting twins, she makes a pact with her boss, the posh Mrs Lyons, who is unable to have children, to give one of the babies away, rather than risk losing all of them to care.

                  Mickey stays with mum and Edward goes to Mrs Lyons. Edward is posh, well-educated and rich as a result, while Mickey lives on a poor council estate.

                  Not knowing they are brothers, they meet - first as children and then as teenagers - and become best friends, eventually falling in love with the same girl, Linda.

                  The show follows thier lives and the consequences of the pact between Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons, with the themes of superstition and class throughout.

                  The cast were absolutely fantastic throughout - Lynn Paul's voice was incredible and Sean Jones as Mickey was amazing - he really did make you believe he was seven and later transformed very well into the depressed, broken man. (I'm not giving too much away here, it starts with the ending and goes back in time). He is the true heart of the show and the one you are rooting for.

                  The sight of grown adults acting as children - with the resuting spitting, swearing and snot - is really funny and the supprting cast did a fine job too.

                  The production is slick and there were no hiccups, the sets aren't rzzle dazzle, but they aren't supposed to be - this musical is about the story first and foremost.

                  Although the play is a generation old and some of the references a little dated now (and not one of the kids is obese!) the themes still resonate - especially the scenes of the dole queues, considering we are once again in recession hit times.

                  The music and songs were sung beautifully and emotionally - especially the final 'Tell me it's not true'. It is a musical that definitely makes you laugh and cry. In a way, it's more of a play with songs. It is something that does stay with you after you watch it.

                  My friends had never seen it before and they also thought it was great - as did the whole audience, who gave a standing ovation.

                  I paid £35 (including booking fee) for pretty good seats in the stalls - well worth it. I loved it and am humming the songs today.

                  I would definitely recommend going to see this - even those who don't like musicals!

                  Go and see it!

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                    05.04.2010 19:13
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                    Emotional and thought provoking musical

                    I loved this story at school so I went to see Blood Brothers by Willy Russell this weekend. It is on at the Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London. The tickets were stall tickets at about £55 each. A bit pricey however you can get cheaper tickets if you sit in the dress circle or shop around as some websites offer good deals including pre show dinner.

                    The story is based in Liverpool at the time of the coal mining strikes. Mel C plays the main character, Mrs Johnstone. She is a mother who is struggling to feed her children when she finds herself pregnant yet again. Her husband leaves at this point for a young Marilyn Monroe look alike. She later finds out that she is expecting twins and confides with her wealthy employer, Mrs Lyons who is a childless mother. So desperate to have children, Mrs Lyons forces Mrs Johnstone to give up one of the twins as she can offer the child a better life.

                    Throughout the story you see the boys live separate lives due to the economic divide however their paths cross at various times which eventually becomes their fate. Eddie and Mickey meet as young boys and become good friends. The boys make a pact and become blood brothers when they find out they share the same birthday. Both mothers become aware of the boys friendship where Mrs Johnstone first is angry however cannot help but love her lost son. However Mrs Lyons resents the friendship and forces her family to move to the country where she believes Eddie will be far away from Mickey and Mrs Johnstone. However fate plays a hand when Mrs Johnstone is re-housed to the country not so far away from the Lyons. This is where the story becomes emotional and thought provoking as two boys who have been brought up in different social classes become friends once again after
                    years of being a part. This time the different up bringings start to reveal their selfs as Eddie goes off to university and Mickey marries a pregnant Linda, which later transpires Eddie loves too. Money becomes tight as Mickey loses his job and finds himself tempted by his brothers offer of money to be a lookout on a job. Unfortunately it all goes wrong and a man is murdered, Mickey gets convicted for murder as his brother escapes the crime.

                    Mickey is eventually released from prison however has become reliant on pills to help him through the day which upsets Linda who turns to Eddie now a councillor for his help.

                    This is where I shall leave the storyline as is this is where the fate unfolds. I do not want to spoil for those who have yet to see. The ending leaves not a dry eye in the house.

                    Mel C is obviously the most talented from the Spice Girls as she acts and sings with such emotion and passion. She deserved the standing ovation at the end.

                    I would urge any one to go whilst Mel C is still playing the main role as she really does bring the character of Mrs Johnstone to life.

                    My only criticisim of Blood Brothers is the set, as it hardlly changes throughout the musical. However this should not stop you going to see it.

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                      08.01.2010 12:43
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                      If you like shows and going to the theatre, this is a must see!

                      I went to see this play with my sister last week, and I didn't know what it was about. I found it to be very exciting, movalbe, funny, touching, realastic.

                      The cast was spot on! Mel C was great and she did show off her singing ability, and proved she can sing and her acting was amazing, you could see the expressions on her face and you followed the story with her.

                      Even tho it didn't have a huge cast, they did an excellent job and one of the best casts i've seen on stage, as they made the us believe in their characters and they played it with such passion.

                      We went there not knowing what to expect and was amazed by the show, it was very enjoyable, we were stuck to our seats every minute and we laughed and left with tears in our eyes.

                      It's a must see! I've already booked my tickets to go back and see it in 2 months.

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                        12.07.2009 18:04
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                        A wonderful musical experience

                        I love being able to go to the theatre and watch live musicals and if I had to name one favourite it would have to be Blood Brothers which I have just seen for the fourth time - and it was every bit as good as the first! Sadly, it is so expensive to travel up to the West End so I like to keep a look out for what is on tour, especially if it is coming to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, which is only about fifteen miles from where I live. This is where I have just watched Blood Brothers. In fact this is the third time I have seen the show at this theatre - only the first time was in London.

                        It is also worth mentioning that Blood Brothers is now in its twenty fifth year so it has achieved quite a history in that time with many notable actresses taking the lead role of Mrs Johnstone - Petula Clark, Carole King, Barbara Dickson, Helen Reddy and at least two of the Nolan sisters nto name but a few. The performance I have just seen starred Maureen Nolan.

                        Blood Brothers is written by Willie Russell and is set in Liverpool. It tells the story of twin brothers who are separated at birth. They are both born to Mrs Johnstone who already has a large brood and is extremely hard up especially as her husband has left her. She reckons that she can just about manage to feed one more mouth but can't see how she will be able to cope with two. She confides in Mrs Lyons, the lady she cleans for. Mrs Lyons can't have children but is desperate to become a mother. She would be able to offer a child so much more than Mrs Johnstone can. As her husband is working away for nine months, she offers to take one of the babies but everyone must think it is her own and she even makes Mrs J swear on the bible. When they are born, Mrs Lyons takes Edward and Mrs Johnstone keeps Mickey.

                        The rest of the musical follows the two boys growing up and what happens to them. Even though they are very different in their upbringings they are drawn to each other, much to both mothers' horror. When they discover that they were both born on the same day, they decide that they must be 'blood brothers' and seal the pact with their own blood. As you can imagine, Edward grows up amidst good things and luxury whereas Mickey is always doomed to struggle. Nevertheless, the friendship is sustained, and even includes Linda who could love both of them in different ways but can only ever be with one of them.

                        As the musical heads towards its climax there is a feeling that it's all going to end very badly. I am not giving away anything here because the musical starts at the end, if you know what I mean, before going back in time so you do actually have an idea about how it is all going to end. It's not all doom and gloom though, as there are some really lovely and upbeat moments as well as some more gloomy ones. One of the things that I particularly like about this musical is the fact that the same actors play the boys and their friends all the way through from when they are very young right up to adulthood. This makes for wonderful theatre as you watch these men and women fighting, chanting, spitting and even picking noses. They portray childhood to a T! It is very funny to watch and there are times when the whole theatre is roaring with laughter.

                        The show that I have just been to see is the touring version so it should be seen up and down the country on different dates. Maureen Nolan is playing the role of Mrs Johnstone absolutely superbly. Mickey and Eddy are played by Sean Jones and Simon Willmont and they are both excellent too. It never ceases to amaze me that every time I see the show, although different actors are playing the parts, they all do it just as well and the characters always seem the same. When I saw Blood Brothers two years ago Anthony Costa played Mickey and he was absolutely brilliant, but so was Sean Jones this time. The contrast between the two brothers is always so good. I must also mention the rest of the ensemble. Many of whom play a number of parts, but they always do it so well.

                        One more role that is worth singling out is that of the narrator. He is on stage all of the time just looking and observing what is happening. No one talks to him and he is not part of the action but he provides a commentary and often it feels like his is the voice of doom. I love watching this character, this time played so ably by Robbie Scotcher, as he keeps repositioning himself around different parts of the stage and just taking it all in in a very knowing way!

                        The musical numbers in the show are wonderful. There are probably not that many that are really well known but it's very clever how many of them receive quite a few refrains in slightly different ways. However, the song that makes the show for me is the wonderful 'Tell Me it's not true'. This is one of the most moving beautiful songs ever and we hear it both at the beginning and the end of the show, and I can never listen to more than a few bars without tears welling up in my eyes! I don't know how all the actors manage to sing it night after night without breaking up!

                        The experience of watching this show is just amazing. It makes me laugh and it also makes me cry and I know that by the end I will not be able to stop blubbing - the challenge is to do it quietly so that no one notices. When I watched the show the other night, the effect was just the same and I realised that I had started crying at exactly the same point that I had done in previous shows! (My husband despairs of me sometimes!) I did hear quite a few other people in the auditorium trying to suppress their tears too so it's not only me that is affected that way.

                        When you leave the show you are likely to be emotionally wrung out - I have been four times! However, you will also feel uplifted, inspired, enthralled and so many other things that will leave you on such a high! It is a truly wonderful show and if you are able to either go and see it in the West Ende or manage to get tickets for the tour, I really can recommend it. I am sure that this is not the last time I will be going to see it!

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                          15.05.2009 23:04
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                          a great powerful, engaging show

                          I love going to the theatre and when my friend invited me to see Blood Brothers i jumped at the chance, especially as i'd heard so many people going on about how good it was and after seeing it, i'd have to agree with what everyone else was saying.

                          I love a show that gets you completely wrapped up in what is going on and draws you in and makes you want or need to know what is going to happen next, and Blood Brothers is definitely one of these shows in my opinion.

                          It is a musical based on the Johnston family, namely the mother whose husband has left her and she is left raise a house full of children, including the twins she has just given birth to. Not thinking she can cope, she does something that sets the whole show up and leads to the dramatic conclusion. It starts with how it ends and shows us how it gets there and what does actually happen at the end.

                          The songs are very good and powerful and catchy and the acting is extremely good.
                          I have been to see this show twice and i would definitely see it a third time. The second time i saw it i was quite close to the front and seeing it that close up just makes you feel more involved in the show.

                          It is definitely one of those shows that you have to see at least once. The plot is very good and something that hasn't been done before. I would reccommend to everyone to see this show. Try it ans see what you think.

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                            02.04.2009 16:09
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                            This show made me an emotional wreck! Laughing and crying, I didn't know what to do next!

                            I had heard mixed reviews of Blood Brothers and was unsure of what to expect. Some people seemed to think that Blood Brothers was the best show they had ever seen and others were disappointed. Being honest, one of the biggest reasons I decided to go and see this particular show was that the tickets were half price so we got two tickets for £22.50 each. The seats were fantastic, 8 rows back from the stage and in the centre next to the aisle so my husband could stretch his legs out.

                            I will not give too much away about the storyline, but the show starts with the ending, and then goes back to the beginning. The storyline is based around Mrs Johnstone and her twin boys who are separated at birth. Mrs Johnstone is a single mother to a number of children and cannot afford to give them the lifestyle she thinks they deserve. Her employer on the other hand is a wealthy woman who cannot have a child and persuades Mrs Johnstone to let her bring up one of the twins as her own. No matter what measures the women take, the boys' paths seemed to cross and they are drawn to each other. The narrator's presence throughout is fantastic, he is often portrayed as the bad side of everything that is going on, the devil on her shoulder and her conscience. Within 10 minutes of watching the show, I could really believe that the actors on stage were 8 year old boys and girls. It was quite remarkable to see the boys grow into men before your eyes.

                            This show stretched my emotions from one end of the scale to another. One minute you are laughing and the next you are crying. The songs are mainly based around just a few tunes but the lyrics are changed. Songs such as Marilyn Monroe and Cowboys and Indians are extremely catchy and Tell Me Its Not True is a real tear jerker.

                            I would recommend this show to anyone who likes to visit the West End. The Phoenix Theatre is, if anything, looking a little tired, but once the lights go down, it captivates and you lose yourself in the show. The theatre was probably only half full, but the actors gave it everything they had and the raw emotion shone through.

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                              28.03.2009 13:21
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                              A brilliantly written story, not for very young children.

                              This musical is more like a play with some singing than a standard musical. That said, it is one of the best musicals out there with one of the most emotive songs from a show - Tell Me It's Not True.

                              My husband felt the first 10 -15 mins were a little slow, but they are necessary to set up the story of a woman who has to make an awful choice. She is struggling to feed and clothe her growing family on her own as her husband has left her (for a woman who looks just like Marilyn Monroe), she has now just had twin sons and a rich employer who desperately wants a child and can offer him all the material possesions that she cannot provide. The choice she makes then sets of a series of events that span the years and lead to one of the most dramatic show endings that I have ever seen.

                              The show is given a real sense of forboding by the dark presence of the narrator, who a times feels like a cross between her conscience and the devil and links the whole show seamlessly.

                              You will be struggling with your tears during this show, sometimes with laughter and sometimes with raw emotion. The writing is fantastic, there are a few swears but they are appropriate to the scenes. I do not want to spoil the show by going too much into the details of the story, but from the start you will have an idea of how it will end but not how it is going to get there or how your emotions will be given such a workout on the journey. You are guaranteed some real belly laughs and some really harrowing moments.

                              I have seen this show several times over the last few years and have to say that Linda Nolan is the best Mrs Johnstone, she brings real emotion to the role, and I have seen her really distraught as she sings the last song. Unfortunately she is not playing the part at the moment due to personal circumstances, but should she ever take up the part again I would urge you to see her in this role.

                              The show is on at the Phoenix Theatre, London, but constantly tours also so should be coming somewhere near you. Maureen Nolan is currently Mrs Johnstone in the touring version and Niki Evans (a former X Factor contestant) plays the part in the West End.

                              If you want a night of great entertainment and love a powerful story this is definately for you.

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                                06.01.2009 21:17
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                                The best musical i have seen

                                I am a big fan of musical theatre and earlier this year my huband and I went to London for the weekend, he is not a theatre lover and has never seen a musical, so i booked us a hotel and ticket deal. I chose to see blood brothers as i hadnt seen it myself.
                                So we arrived at the Pheonix theatre which is a lovely theatre and got outselfs settled.
                                Right from the start of this production with its mood setting intro music i was captivated. The story line being of two brothers born by Mrs Johnston, a lady who has many children and no money and her boss cannot have children so Mrs J agrees to let her have one of her babys.
                                The story unfolds and the boys meet through out the years despite the two mothers trying to prevent it due to superstitions. A young girl marries one of the boys but ends up wanting the other. There are many twists and turns through out the play.
                                The production had be laughing out loud, jumping the next and then tears. This production takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and well worth seeing, i loved it so much that i went to see it on tour at Plymouth pavilions and it wont be the last time i see this production, even the second time made me cry, really isnt a dry eye in the house.

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                                22.11.2008 21:50
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                                A highly comical tragic musical.

                                Blood Brothers, first developed by Willy Russell in 1981 within school workshops, was revamped by Bill Kenwright in 1987 and returned to the West End the following year. It was the first West End revival to be nominated for the Best Musical Revival Olivier Award within two years of winning the Original Best Musical production. It transferred from the Albery to the Phoenix four years later in 1991, where it remains today and has become one of the longest running musicals in the West End

                                Set in working class 1950-60s Liverpool, the context in which Russell himself grew up, the musical deals predominantly with the issue of class.

                                The play's circular narrative sets the tragic tone from the start, which is then quickly contrasted by its comical musical style. Unlike most other West End musicals, this one is truly concerned with plot and its social message. However it manages to have a lot of fun along the way, particularly in the early scenes with hilarious adult performances of children, and a clever use of multi-rolling.

                                However, by the end the characters have moved from comic stereotypes to ones you care about, and the more sensitive among you might even find a few tears welling up as you jump at the climax.

                                I'd recommend it as a musical, that even those who aren't keen on musicals can enjoy.

                                Director: Bob Tomson & Bill Kenwright
                                Design: Andy Walmsley
                                Musical Director: Rod Edwards
                                Lighting: Nick Richings

                                Cast:
                                Helen Hobson Mrs Johnstone
                                Jay Roberts Mickey
                                Joe Fredericks Eddie
                                Steven Houghton Narrator
                                Joanne Zorian Mrs Lyons
                                Stephen Pallister Mr Lyons
                                Debbie Eden Linda
                                Michael Southern Sammy
                                Adam Tedder PC/Teacher
                                Amy O'Neill Donna Marie
                                Emma Nowell Brenda
                                Simon Turner Perkins
                                Alex Harland Bus Conductor
                                Michael Everest Neighbour

                                Nightly Evening Performance: 7.45pm
                                Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2.
                                Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road.
                                Tel: +44 (0)20 7369 1733.

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