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Just ignore that woman sobbing in the tenth row - it's only me!
Member Name: kingfisher111
Date: 12/07/09, updated on 21/08/11 (930 review reads)
Advantages: Fab songs, acting and story
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!
Summary: A wonderful musical experience
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