CentralDramaFeaturedMusicalReview

Blood Brothers – Birmingham Hippodrome

Reviewer: Mattie Bagnall

Writer: Willy Russell

Directors: Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright

You will find it difficult to find many who haven’t experienced the rollercoaster of emotions that is a trip to the theatre to take in Blood Brothers. That the play turned musical has recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with this tour is testament to its success in gripping audiences up and down the country. Willy Russell’s original play successfully tackled themes of the class divide, inequality and fate, but since its conversion to a musical, it has captivated young and old alike with its raw emotion in the form of powerful musical numbers.

Facing destitution, Mrs Johnstone (Niki Colwell Evans) has it all planned out. Careful management of the finances might just about allow her to raise her family, including the imminent arrival of one more. When she is faced with the bombshell news of twins, she has to pit morals against survival as her employer Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley) proposes that she raises one of the twins as her own, having suffered her own difficulties in conceiving.

What follows are twists and turns as Mrs Johnstone faces the anguish of only raising one-half of the newborn twins. Despite thinking she will be involved in his life, Mrs Lyons has other ideas and soon presents her superstition that twins separated at birth must never know they are related. Having had plenty of experience in the role, it is no surprise that Colwell Evans captures the journey of emotions well that Mrs Johnstone goes through as she hits hurdle after hurdle.

Celebrating Blood Brothers royalty doesn’t end there, with Sean Jones returning once again for this tour with no let up in the energy, charisma and charm that is to be expected of Mickey as he grows up from the age of seven (nearly eight) to his twenties. Mickey’s relationship with his unsuspecting twin Eddie is often the highlight of the show and it is once again here as Joe Sleight shows good contrast in the two personalities, adding humour with his characters’ naivety at all of the right moments.

Special mention must also go to Gemma Brodrick in the role of Linda who expertly delivers as she goes from playful schoolgirl to heartbroken yet still caring wife to a broken, criminalised Mickey.

The only criticism within the show is some of the power is lacking in the narrator’s songs, which at times face a losing battle with the orchestra. Scott Anson otherwise does a fine job as the mysterious, yet rightfully intimidating narrator.

It would be wrong to write a review on Blood Brothers without discussing the ending which engrosses everyone in the heartbreak that follows. The transition from comedy to tragedy is paced well, with an action-packed, powerful ending that will no doubt shock you. The final musical number, Tell Me It’s Not True which is gradually delivered by most of the cast gives goosebumps as the audience recovers from jumping out of their seats a minute earlier.

Given its age, some may argue that Blood Brothers requires freshening up. The reality is that all of the themes are still so relevant to this day, and for as long as that is the case I expect this musical to be successful every time it embarks on a new tour. For those yet to experience the thrill of the musical, this is your chance to witness a timeless classic. Avid Blood Brothers fans will also rejoice in enjoying the show once again in its original, unedited form.

Runs until 4 May 2024 and on tour

The Reviews Hub Score

A timeless classic

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The Reviews Hub - Central

The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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One Comment

  1. Scott Ansons vocals were spot on when we saw it, so maybe the mixing was wrong, or you were sat somewhere to get a bad mix and blend of sound?

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