Perhaps one of Willy Russell’s most famous pieces returns to its home city this week, as Blood Brothers arrives at the Empire Theatre.
The musical follows the lives of twin brothers whose mother can’t afford to keep them both. They are separated – one kept by Mrs Johnstone, while the other is given to the affluent Lyons family. Despite their mothers best efforts to ensure they never meet, Mickey and Edwards’s paths cross and they become best friends. But fate and superstition are never far away and the past actions are eventually revealed – with devastating consequences.
It is a piece of casting genius in securing Spice Girl Melanie C to star as Mrs Johnstone in Liverpool, and she brings with her an energy which has reinvigorated this show. It is a welcome surprise that she is as good an actress as she is a singer. She is too young for the role, but her stage presence, distinctive voice and emotional insight shine through - particularly during the final song.
The whole company must also be commended, particularly Sean Jones as Mickey, who brings the house down with his one-liners and comic timing.
Blood Brothers is a highly enjoyable show which packs an emotional punch. With a timeless story of love, friendship and betrayal, you will be shedding a tear and joining the standing ovation way before the curtain falls.
- David Jack