“ Willy Russell's internationally acclaimed smash hit musical has returned to Birmingham Hippodrome by massive popular demand. „
I have seen this show twice now and both times it has truly shaken me to the core with the sheer power of the script, story line and performances the cast provide. Blood Brothers follows the stories of two twin brothers, seperated at birth due to their mothers unstable financial situation. It then shows how these two, not knowing who they are, grow up as childhood friends, grow up together and then tragically die together.
The two brothers, Eddie and Mickey were (and still are) played by Richard Reynard and Stephen Palfreman, who both give absoloutly stunning performances. Both actors start the show aged just 7 and throughout the 2 hour performance mature it men in theyre early 30's. It is truly astonishing to watch.
The show is more a play with music as apose to an actual musical, and to that extent the music is not one of the main features of the piece. Having said that though, there are some very dramatic pieces of music throuhgout, the most of which being the narrators song, which repeats several times throughout and provides a bone chilling element to the piece.
Costumes are fairly simple, school uniforms and work clothes (i.e milkman, postman etc) for most of the ensemble but this causes the piece to feel very realistic, which really helps with the believability of the piece. One of the best parts about the show would be that it is hilarious but at the same time very moving. At one moment you can be holding your tummy with laughter cramps, and the next holding your tounge so the person next to you doesn't hear you sobbing.
The show runs for roughly 2 and a half hours in total, including the interval, and is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre in London's West End, aswell as beginning it's UK tour recently. If you want a great night at the theatre and don't mind the possibility of leaving with mascara half way down your face, I would strongly recommend Blood Brothers.
Tickets start at £15 from lastminute.com
On this occasion of blood brothers, the lead role of Mrs Johnstone, the down-trodden single mother of plenty was taken by Denise Nolan. This time, they've kept it in the family, with younger sister Linda donning the apron and worn-out overcoat. She makes a decent job of it but I found her to be too clean and polished, with barely a hair out of place. The role demands the sympathy of the audience - I would like to see a grubbier, earthier and pitiful Mrs J. Linda Nolan. She sang her part well, but that after all, is her forte!!!!
Sean Jones makes a splendid return to the Hippodrome as the rougher half of the Blood Brothers having enjoyed success as Mickey two years ago. This time I found him even funnier, and certainly even sadder as he battled forlornly - and tragically - to overcome the ravages of life that had been thrown at him. He was by far the best character and for a man to play a kids part is hard so I truly take my hat of to him!!!!
Against him, Joe Fredericks makes a near-perfect Eddie: the clean-cut, well-educated half of the twins separated at birth by a combination of rich desire and abject poverty. Together they provide the greatest humour, and ultimately the rawest of emotions.
Between the pair of them comes the love of their lives, Linda, perkily played by true Scouser Linzi Matthews. She brilliantly transforms from the teasing teenager to the suffering wife, mother-to-be and grieving widow; grieving over the one brother she married; the other she loved but couldn't marry.
Personaly I found the narrator very hard to get on with, played by Keith burns who is well known as THE narrator for blood brothers, he played a very stilted performanc wich i felt let the play down a little!!!
Talking of which it set me thinking of previous performances, and previous casts I've seen. Top Mrs Johnstone would have to be Barbara Dickson, followed closely by Rebbeca Storm, while Mark McGann, Con O'Neill and Peter Capaldi would have to battle it out for the lead roles, with Joe McGann winning a comfortable race for the part of Mickey's elder, naughtier brother Sammy. It's a great parlour game for Blood Brothers fans, of which there were plenty in evidence at the Hippodrome.
If youve never seen Blood Brothers, then please take my advice, and get along to see it immediatly!!! IT IS NOT WORTH MISSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!