Often described as “the ideal Musical for those that don’t really like Musicals” Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers was originally commissioned by Merseyside Young People’s Theatre and had its premier in 1981 at Fazakerley Comprehensive School in Liverpool. Eventually, after a bit of titivating and fleshing out by Russell it ran to full houses at the Liverpool Playhouse. It then transferred to London’s West End where it won an Olivier award for Best Musical although it’s run there was not as long as had been hoped. Bill Kenright got his hands on it, put it on in the Albery (now the Noel Coward) Theatre where it ran for 3 years then transferring to the Phoenix where it had a record breaking run of 21 years!
As ever from Willy Russell, the story is gritty and well observed. The story concerns the twin sons of a single mother. She is very poor and reluctantly gives up one of them to a wealthy woman who is desperate to have a child. The two boys never know they are related but become good friends after meeting when they are seven (nearly eight). We see them grow up and this fascinating production keeps the audience completely gripped as all the trials and tribulations unfold.
Niki Colwell Evans plays the mother (Mrs Johnstone) who doesn’t have the easiest life. Brilliant performance by Niki and you’ll find yourself laughing (and crying) along with her.
The two sons are as different as chalk and cheese played by Sean Jones & Jay Worley. These two have to progress from 7 year olds to middle age and so skilful are both actors that the whole time we completely believe them – both the lighter moments and the more dramatic. If there was an award for touring productions I think Sean and Jay, along with love interest Linda (Carly Burns) would win Best Performance hands down! As for the excellent supporting cast – Mr & Mrs Lyons (Paula Tappenden & Tim Churchill), Sammy (Timothy Lucas) the list goes on. Some very fine performances from all cast members some playing more than one role and a fine band under the direction of Matt Malone make this a proper theatrical event!
Conclusion: Kill for a ticket if you have to!
Blood Brothers is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 3rd September
Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes