Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers is a worldwide smash and each performance is rewarded with a standing ovation. Where many actors have donned Joseph’s Technicolor Dream coat over the years, many actresses have played down trodden Mrs Johnstone (including many of the Nolan sisters and Petula Clark). On this occasion Niki Evans (X Factor) steps perfectly in to the role (which she has previously played in the West End where the show is still running).
It’s not giving anything away to say that this is an emotional rollercoaster of a show that gives its terrible heart wrenching ending away right at the start. However, the story of how we work back to the end, if you follow, is riveting and several of the audience around me were literally in floods of tears at the finale, along with Niki Evans as she sang "Tell Me It’s Not True.."
The story follows Mrs Johnson, already the mother of several children, who finds she is pregnant with twins she cannot afford to keep. Reluctantly she agrees to give one of them away to Mrs Lyons, the lady she cleans for. However, in a near perfect production Tracy Spencer’s portrayal of the selfish Mrs Lyons just does not ring true.
Although the twins have no idea who the other is, by a turn of fate they get to know each other and form a close bond, which last through in to manhood. However when politics and the love of one girl, get in the way of the friendship, we know that their fate is sealed.
Sean Jones, who has played the role of Mickey on tour and in the West End, is faultless as the twin left to grow up with his real mother. He believably changes from a cheeky seven year old to the young man doped on anti-depressants in front of our eyes. While Paul Davies, who plays Eddie, the twin left with Mrs. Lyons, is more believable once his character has grown up.
However, Craig Price is perfectly cast as the Narrator, who brings a menacing presence to the role as he quietly moves around the stage and gives the character a dimension I have not seen in previous productions.
This is a musical that demonstrates what live theatre is all about and this first class production will only strengthen the show's fan base and ensure Blood Brothers is rightly around for many years to come.