Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Blood Brothers is Willy Russell’s “Liverpudlian folk opera” which tells the story of Mrs Johnstone, a newly single mother of many children struggling to make ends meet. Pregnant once again, she manages to find a cleaning job for a well to do couple – Mr and Mrs Lyons. When Mrs Johnstone discovers that she is infact expecting twins she is persuaded by childless Mrs Lyons to give her one of the babies to raise as her own, promising her that she will always be able to visit and spend time with her baby.
Things, very quickly, take a dramatic turn and Mrs Lyons sacks Mrs Johnstone leaving her devastated at not being able to see her son anymore.
The lives of the twins, Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Jay Worley) are very different, but are intertwined and they somehow keep finding each other, and end up being a large part of each other’s lives as “Blood Brothers”.
Blood Brothers is a story that has been told in theatres around the world, it had a 24 year run in the West End, as well as touring throughout the UK and internationally. I personally, have seen this show more than any other show. And do you know what? It hasn’t lost a single inch of its magic. Everything about this production is outstanding.
The script is the glue that holds everything together. It’s hilarious, moving and heartbreaking all at the same time, something we can always rely on Willy Russel to provide. The set is simple and really hasn’t changed over the years, but it doesn’t need to. It helps to tell the narrative – along with the ever present and haunting narrator played by Richard Munday. Every single hair on my head stood on end during his performance of “Shoes on the Table”.
Niki Colwell Evans is magnificent as Mrs Johnstone. She is entertaining, engaging and her delivery of Tell Me It’s Not True at the finale was spine tingling and utterly heartbreaking. She had the audience sobbing openly.
Jay Worley, as Eddie, is a breath of fresh air. He brings life to the role, and his chemistry with both Mickey and Linda ( Carly Burns) makes the story so much more believable and entertaining.
Carly Burns is just wonderful as the ever optimistic and loving Linda, who at times has her loyalty tested with catastrophic results.
Sean Jones was born for the role of Mickey, he kept us laughing in his portrayal of young Mickey, taking on his big brother Sammy, played by the fabulous Timothy Lucas. Every note he sang was pitch perfect. Jones did a magnificent job of playing Mickey as a drug dependent young man, struggling with depression and self doubt. Blood Brothers can often be thought of as comedic show with a tragic ending, but it is so much more than that. Jones shows us just how vulnerable and desperate Mickey is and we are invested in his success and failures. Which is why the ending results in the entire auditorium gasping (loudly).
The whole cast is outstanding; this show is a well oiled machine and it just doesn’t age. The musical numbers are brilliantly performed and are the reason that people like me keep coming back again and again. I’m guessing that the rest of the audience felt the same, judging by the way they literally jumped from their seats before the last note was played.
Blood Brothers is the greatest of British musical theatre all in one show. It is a must see for all, especially if you’re a northerner!
Blood Brothers is on at The Lowry until Saturday 22nd October tickets available here.