blood cast

Blood Brothers

Lichfield Garrick


It would seem that since its debut in 1983, Blood Brothers, is still playing on a stage somewhere in the world. Playwright Willy Russell drew upon his own gritty upbringing to create this tragic and poetic story of life in the working-class neighbourhoods of Liverpool.

Winning The Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1983 it remains a significant addition to British theatre. The play seamlessly blends humour, tragedy, and music and even if you have seen it before, the powerful culmination of the story never fails to win you over emotionally.

Blood Brothers revolves around the lives of Mickey and Eddie, twin brothers separated at birth. Whilst Mickey is raised in a struggling working-class family, Eddie enjoys a privileged upbringing and it is this social division which is at the heart of Russel’s tragic tale.

While the musical numbers enhance the emotional depth of the play with songs like Marilyn Monroe, Tell Me It's Not True, and Shoes Upon the Table, unlike Jukebox musicals,it has the scope for real acting drama. The transition of the boys from innocence into young manhood is performed here to great effect in this current production.

mom and mickey

Niki Colwell Evans as Mrs Johnstone and Sean Jones as Mickey. Pictures: Jack Merriman

Tamworth Born Nicky Colwell Evans revives her West End role as the boy’s mother, Mrs Johnstone. Her considerable experience was evident as both her quality voice was emotional and uplifting, and her acting and performance shone, adding great depth to the production.

The narrator was played by Danny Whitehead and his harmonies elevated many of the songs whilst adding a fluid yet impactful presence to the play. Sean Jones is also no stranger to the role of Mickey playing the character in both the West Ed and touring productions. It was clear he has a great understanding of the character powerfully portraying the transition of the cheeky boy into the depressed and broken man.

Joe Sleight played Eddie and again is no stranger to the role, adding just enough middle class polish to his character. A familiar face to Holly Oaks viewers is Sarah Jane Buckley as Mrs Lyons the desperate woman who raises Eddie and ultimately loses him.

Stepping into the role of Linda for this performance was Jess Smith, who being from Liverpool had no problem with the accent and delivered a solid and commendable supporting role. The play is so well crafted that characters change in seconds and before your very eyes, an example of which was Nick Wilkes morphing from ublic school to secondary school teacher in a couple of paces.

This is a first class production that benefits from the play’s long heritage but is delivered with skill and compassion. The sound production is especially good with an excellent balance of the live off stage band and the superb vocals. Bob Tomson’s direction is light enough to not mess with the formulae but encourages a very deep exploration of the dark drama that ultimately adds real impact to the finale.  

This won’t be the last time Blood Brothers is staged for sure, but as a touring production this is one of the best, a view that seemed to be shared by the full house and their instantaneous standing ovation. To 09-09-23.

Jeff Grant


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