Three years ago, I took my seat in Birmingham Hippodrome, where I witnessed the story of the Johnstone twins unroll before my eyes for the very first time.
I remember being so moved by Willy Russell’s timeless production, a show that has captivated audiences up and down the country since it first took to the stage more than three decades ago, and the second time around, my feelings towards Blood Brothers are very much the same.
After opening on stage back in 1983, Russell’s tale of two star-crossed brothers separated at birth has become one of the most heartbreaking in the world of musical theatre. Since its debut, it’s picked up an Olivier Award for best musical, and enjoyed a 24-year run in London’s West End.
Set in the heart of a council estate in Liverpool, a young, loved-up Mrs Johnstone falls in love with her husband. But when he leaves her for another woman, she discovers that she’s expecting twins and with several mouths already there to feed, Mrs Johnstone makes the heartbreaking decision to give one of her sons away to her employer, who is unable to have children.
As the year’s pass, Mrs Johnstone lives with the thought that she may never see her son again, but when the long-lost brothers cross paths as youngsters, the tale of the Johnstone twins begins to take a sinister turn encased in superstitions. And while unbeknownst to their relation, Eddie and Mickey become best friends, yet the pact made by two women on the fateful day where new shoes were left on the table remains as a dark cloud above all who involved in the heartbreaking secret.
The sensational Lyn Paul reprised her role as Mrs Johnstone, a character she’s no stranger in playing. So it came as no surprise to me that her performance was just as noteworthy as it was when I first saw her step into the shoes of the broken-hearted mother back in 2016.
Joel Benedict also made a return to the Hippodrome taking on the role of Eddie. He was joined by Alexander Patmore as his energetic brother, Mickey. The pair gave a raw and emotional performance as the Johnstone twins, captivating the beautiful yet challenging relationship. The supporting cast was also outstanding. Praise must be given to Chloe Tayor (Mrs Lyons), Danielle Corlass (Linda) and Robbie Scotcher (the Narrator).
A truly compelling story that will leave you laughing, crying and on the edge of your seat, Blood Brother’s continues to lead the pack as one of the most celebrated shows in musical theatre. Simply unmissable, it runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, October 12. Click here to book your tickets.