“But you know if you cross your fingers and count from one to ten, you
can get up off the ground again.”
Willy Russell’s compelling story Blood Brothers is back in Nottingham
and even if you’ve seen it before it’s definitely one you can watch
again and again.
Set in the North West in the 60s this isn’t just a musical it’s a
fantastically written narrative playing on all your emotions and not
just for musical lovers.
Mrs Johnstone: struggling to make ends meet with 7 kids, husband leaves
with twins on the way: the story of how one twin is kept and one is
given away – to well to do Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley) – is perfectly
narrated by Robbie Scotcher.
We follow the years from 7 (nearly 8) to adulthood of Mickey Johnstone
and Eddie Lyons (Mark Hutchinson) – drawn together despite the social
differences of their upbringing – becoming “Blood Brothers” – their
lives take different paths but somehow these paths cross again and again
and the unravelling of the secret kept by their mothers is played out in
front of a riveted audience.
Before now I’ve been lucky enough to catch this twice before first in
2004, then 2016 and Sean Jones has played the role of twin Mickey
Johnstone on all 3 occasions – each one with just as much passion and
professionalism as the last never looking bored of delivering the same
lines night after night. Getting the audience to easily believe you are
a 7yr old happy go lucky boy is signs of a great actor but to also
transition into a teenager, working class man and clinically depressed
prisoner in 2hrs of live action with just the power of your performance
and no fancy effects is signs of a phenomenal actor.
I cannot imagine anyone else as Mickey it would be like watching your
favourite film with your favourite character replaced – it might be
better might be worse but will never be the same.
Linda Nolan played the role of Mrs Johnstone for many years and I think
we have found someone worthy of taking this character to the next level
– Linzi Hateley was outstanding. Gripping, entertaining, emotional and
the perfect vocal for the iconic “Tell Me It’s Not True”
There were a few other faces on stage which prompted me to dig out my
old programmes where I can confirm playing the same role from 2016 was
Danielle Corlass as Mickeys school friend turned wife Linda and Graham
Martin as Policeman/Teacher plus Tim Churchill as Mr Lyons who also
played the role in 2004. Again they were polished as you would expect
after so many years but still looking fresh allowing new audiences to
believe it’s the first time the story has been told.
Way wood older brother Sammy is played by Daniel Taylor and sister
Donna-Marie is played by Amy-Jane Ollies.
You can see why actors keep coming back to reprise the same roles
delivering with the same high level energy and compassion as though it
was the first time they had said those lines out loud – they are drawn
into the story and becoming that character just as much as the audiences
are right there with them. The tears from the cast and audience alike
are real because you feel it and it feels real.
Not many dry eyes in the house and everyone deservedly on their feet –
do not pass up the opportunity to grab a ticket!
Blood Brothers, Theatre Royal Nottingham until Saturday 16th February
Book Tickets here – https://trch.co.uk/whats-on/blood-brothers-2/