Writer: Willy Russell
Producer: Bill Kenwright
Reviewer: Karen McCandless
The Public Reviews Rating:
Since making its debut in 1983, Blood Brothers has become one of the nation’s best loved musicals. Penned by Willy Russell, the musical is currently playing at Birmingham Hippodrome for a two-week stop over. Multi-award winning and highly-rated there was much excitement pre-show about this performance, with many, many repeat bookers in the audience, with some having seen it as many as ten times before.
This particular touring performance featured Wet Wet Wet frontman Marti Pellow as the Narrator alongside former X Factor semi-finalist Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone. The show featured all the classic songs from the powerful ballad Tell Me It’s Not True, to Marilyn Monroe, Shoes On The Table, and Bright New Day.
Telling the story of the Johnstone twins who were separated at birth but who grew up minutes from each other, Blood Brothers is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Dark, gritty and sad alternated with laugh-out-loud humour and silly jokes. The performances from all actors were exceptional, with every character conveying the full emotional depth of the situation. Set against a backdrop of inner city Liverpool, the set was relatively simple but aptly conveyed the contrasting fortunes of the Johnstone brothers – one condemned to a life of making ends meet and the other destined for a university degree and high-flying career.
Marti Pellow excelled. Powerful and strong, scary and imposing, the former Wet Wet Wet man dominated the stage even when he was only an onlooker. The only issue was a slightly dodgy Liverpool accent. Maybe he would have been best sticking to Scottish. Sean Jones as Mickey perfectly transitioned from young, naughty boy to grown up man trying to make something of himself to his tragic downfall. Aware for best comic performance and deliverance of lines goes to Jones. Olivia Sloyan as Linda and Peter Washington as Sammy (who stepped in at the last minute to cover illness) delivered strong supporting performances.
The singing was top class. Nicki Evans belted out the songs like her life depended on it. Pellow matched her line for line. There wasn’t one note out of tune or one voice that didn’t make the grade.
And it would have taken a hard heart not to shed a tear at the end. Evans herself looked close to tears as they took to the stage for a bow. The audience was on its feet as soon as the last song ended and the standing ovation went on and on and on…
One word can sum up the night: amazing.
Runs at until 3 November
Picture: Keith Patterson