The same but different….people have always been fascinated with twins. Add to that the fascination with what characterises a person, and it is clear to see why Blood Brothers is one of the most popular musicals of all time.
The Nature vs Nuture debate is one that divides opinion, and is one of the most popular debating subjects. Is a persons development predisposed in their DNA, or is the majority of it influenced by their upbringing and environment? This is a topic that has fascinated me for years, and even led to me writing my University dissertation on it. As a Drama and English student I looked at three plays, that had been adapted for the stage and were centred around this debate. One of them was Blood Brothers, and from the moment I first sat in that theatre and the opening song “Tell Me It’s Not True” rang out I was captured.
Blood Brothers is the classic Nature vs Nuture scenario. Twins Mickey and Eddie (Edward) are born to a working class mother, who cannot afford to keep them both. She gives one away to her wealthy employer, and the show follows the twins as they grow up. Their different backgrounds take them in opposite directions, with one going to prison and one attending University before becoming a councillor. A question the audience are left asking is would things have been different if Mickey was picked from the pram by Mr Lyons, instead of Eddie?
I was excited to see Blood Brothers for the 5th time, this time at the Bristol Hippodrome. It is one of those musicals I could watch over and over again.
The role on Mrs Johnstone is a popular choice for actresses. I have seen this role played by Linda Nolan, and Melanie Chisholm (Spice Girl Mel C), and others such as Carole King, Stephanie Lawrence and Petula Clark have put on the apron and taken audiences by storm. For this production the lead role was taken by Lyn Paul, and it was certainly in safe hands! Voted the definitive Mrs Johnstone she first took on the role in 1997, and has reprised it regularly. She really drew you in to the story, with the ability to suit both the haunting song “Tell Me It’s Not True” and the funny Marilyn Monroe. I was mesmerised by her performance from start to finish, and would even go as far as to say she has been my favourite Mrs Johnstone to date!
I’ve always thought that one of the best roles to play in theatre is Mickey. How many times does a grown man get to run about on stage pretending to ride a horse, shoot an air riffle and play Cowboys and Indians?! As a hyper active seven year old Mickey dominates the first half the actor playing him certainly needs a lot of energy. Luckily this is not something that Sean Jones lacks, and he threw himself into the role. He really made the contrast between the happy seven year old Mickey and the depressed adult Mickey stand out, which is something that is difficult to do. Sean made the audience laugh out loud in the first half, and then shed a tear or two for what happens to Mickey in the second half.
Eddie, or Edward as he is called by his parents, certainly seems to have got the best end of the deal with his upbringing, he wants for nothing. Nothing that is….except to be like his best friend Mickey. Especially when he falls in love with Mickey’s girlfriend Lynda. Mark Hutchinson’s portrayal was spot on, especially when he shows the delighted seven year old Eddie learning new words from his new friend and blood brother – words which he then looks up in the dictionary, much to his parents shock! We also saw the soft side to his when he tells Lynda (Danielle Corlass) that he loves her, and when he tries to help her when Mickey leaves prison and becomes reliant on prescription drugs.
For a 5th time seeing this show I was certainly not disappointed by the cast, and I would seriously recommend everyone goes to watch this. It is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until April 22….you will not be disappointed!!