Blood Brothers is one of those shows that occupies a special spot in my heart. I can still vividly remember the first time I saw it many years ago on a school trip, then coming home and insistently saying that I never had and never would see a better musical. Well, it was quickly pointed out to me that I had only seen two others and so could not possibly make such a sweeping statement, but fortunately the show has never disappointed me and never slipped far from the top spot.
For such an established show, the changing factors can only really be the cast and not only did the current tour not let me down, they were also the first cast to ensure that the age old saying ‘there was not a dry eye in the house’ applied to me too.
Maureen Nolan, who is following in the footsteps of sisters Bernie, Denise and Linda in the role of Mrs Johnstone, brings the wealth of emotion required for the part and of course a stunning rendition of Tell Me It’s Not True.
When Mrs Johnstone finds herself pregnant with twins and realises she cannot afford two more mouths to feed, she makes a binding promise with her employer Mrs Lyons that she will give one twin to her. After giving him away on the agreement she can still see him every day, the only way she struggles through the heartache of losing her job and being banned from seeing her son Eddie again is by knowing he will never want for anything. That is, until he unknowingly befriends the twin she kept, Mickey.
Nolan works brilliantly with Sean Jones (Mickey) and he responds well to the humour she brings to the role. Her softer approach to Mark Hutchinson (Eddie) is clear to see, although it is the love she has for Mickey that really shines through.
Jones and Hutchinson’s chemistry both with each other and with childhood friend and teenage love interest Danielle Corlass (Linda) provides the audience with a few laughs and smiles as they bond and age throughout the show.
The sinister threat of the narrator is perfectly captured by Kristofer Harding, whose powerful vocals convey his ominous nature. He works well with Nolan, whose superstitious Mrs Johnstone is most aware of his ominous warnings to the audience.
The whole company bring life to this celebrated show and, after 29 years, prove that the tale of the Johnstone twins can still bring an entire audience to tears.