Did you ever the story of the Johnstone twins? And if not, why not?
Willy Russell’s Blood Brother’s made a triumphant return to the Liverpool Empire last night and there is nothing better than seeing a musical that ‘belongs’ to a city, in said city. The atmosphere was electric, the cast were excited, and the combination made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Blood Brother’s tells the story of Mrs. Johnstone, who has found out she’s pregnant again, with the threat of Social Services taking some of her children, hanging over her head. She has managed to find herself a job, cleaning the Lyons’ house, when she discovers, she is expecting twins. Luckily, Mrs. Lyons, who has had trouble conceiving, comes up with a plan – she’ll take one of the twins, so Social Services doesn’t. Whilst living in different areas of the city, Mickey and Eddie’s lives still intertwine constantly, even with both families moving away from the original area. We follow their lives until they become men, when everything comes to a head, but is blood truly thicker than water?
I feel like every narrator for the show has been told to watch videos of Marti Pellow, to prepare for the role and it would be nice to see it portrayed differently. That being said, Richard Munday definitely got the ‘hidden-in-the-shadows’ side of the narrator down perfectly and gave the character more depth, in that respect. Niki Colwell Evans was able to get all the different sides of Mrs. Johnstone into the role and her emotional rendition of ‘Tell Me it’s Not True’ will truly stay with me for a long time. Paula Tappenden was perfect as Mrs. Lyons, taking us on the full journey with her, from feeling sorry for her not being able to have a child, to complete villain/’mad woman’ at the end. However, for me it was Sean Jones, Jay Worley and Carly Burns, as Mickey, Eddie and Linda respectively, that made the whole evening. From 7 (nearly 8!) year old’s (yes, the audience joined in!) to the grownups at the end; you were rooting for the friendship and hoping that life would be kind to the three childhood best friends. There was no weak link in this cast, with ensemble members playing various roles throughout the show, with ease and it completely rounded off the whole night.
If there’s one thing I would recommend you add to your bucket list – it would be to make sure to witness Blood Brothers in Liverpool, if you can get a ticket!
Blood Brothers is at the Liverpool Empire until 5th November 2022 with tickets available from www.atgtickets.com/shows/blood-brothers/liverpool-empire/ but hurry before they sell out!
Reviewer: Jenn McKean
Reviewed: 25th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★