BLOOD BROTHERS: Willy Russell
Birmingham Hippodrome 13 – 25 October
Info and Tour Details: www.kenwright.com
Runs: 2h 55m, one interval.
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Birmingham Hippodrome, 15 10 14
Nothing old-chestnut about this vigorous revival.
It’s been around a long time. Here it is once more, recently recast; it looks fresher and newer than it ever did.
Willie Russell’s musical telling of an archetypal story still has the power to engage and move. Twin boys, separated at birth, one brought up rich, one poor, meet by accident (or fate?) and are inseparable . . . We may know the story, we may not, but this show reaches deep inside us and moves us, young and old.
Much of the power of this present production is due to a remarkable performance from Maureen Nolan as Mrs Johnstone. Her voice is as warm as her personality and fills the stage. Yet, as she moves into the second half and skies darken, so she brings great intensity into her portrayal building to a wonderful, wonderful finish. She rightly has us rising to our feet. And how beautifully, too, she annunciates the shifts and subtleties of the refrain ‘Like Marilyn Monroe’ – important, for this reflects the passing narrative.
Sean Jones and Joel Benedict make fine brothers, and Danielle Corlass is a most welcome presence as the luckless Linda.
Kristoffer Harding provides a foreboding presence as the Narrator; he is less dark than is sometimes played, more a dispassionate commentator – but all the better for it.
There are few shows that can cross the age divides as this does, and this present company do it with verve and style.
Mrs Johnton: Maureen Nolan
Narrator: Kristoffer Harding
Mickey: Sean Jones
Eddie: Joel Benedict
Mrs Lyons: Kate Jarman
Linda: Danielle Corlass
Sammy: Daniel Taylor
Mr Lyons: Tom Churchill
Policeman / Teacher: Graham Martin
Donna Marie / Miss Jones: Tori Hargreaves
Perkins: Ben Rowland
Neighbour: Ryan-Lee Seager
Brenda: Lois Molloy
Bus Conductor: Graeme Kinniburgh
Directed by: Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright
Designed by: Andy Walmsley
Lighting Designed by: Mick Richings
Sound Designer: Dan Samson
Music Supervisor: Tom De Keser
Musical Director: Kelvin Towse
Associate Director: Tim Welton
Associate Lighting Designer: Darran Curtis