Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Tour stops off in Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol and more
It's been nearly 30 years since Blood Brothers opened but it still packs a punch as one of the most provocative and emotional musicals in theatre.
Blood Brothers is a must-see powerful tale
Willy Russell, famous for plays such as Educating Rita, penned this gripping, edgy story addressing the difference that the British class system makes to individuals.
Not one to shy away from social issues, this may be fun with a wonderful melodic soundtrack, but unlike most musicals, at the heart of Blood Brothers is a gritty reality that presses all the right emotional buttons.
I caught this production at Malvern Theatres during its UK tour, which encompasses Coventry, Bristol and Birmingham, to name a few.
The story revolves around twin brothers in Liverpool, separated at birth to grow up in polar ends of the class system.
Not only has this poignant story and the catchy musical score stood the test of time, but it's success is also due to maintaining a strong, talented small cast over the years.
A celebrity usually takes on the lead role of Mrs Johnstone - the twins' down-and-out mother who lives a life mainly in debt or anguish - which this time around is Maureen Nolan, once of the Nolan sisters.
She takes on the role that has previously been played by not only her sister Linda Nolan but also Kiki Dee, Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm and Barbara Dickson, to name a few. She's got a good voice but a couple of the songs don't seem ideal for her range, like Easy Terms.
Tough decisions are made in Blood Brothers
It's eery just how relevant many of the scenes are to today's recession-hit Britain, particularly during the song Miss Jones, when we see husbands being handed redundancy slips and left queuing for the dole. Then there are other themes of what opportunities on offer for large single-parent families on benefits, and addiction to anti-depressants. All in all, it's hard to believe this wasn't written just last week.
But along with the sadder elements of this story, it is always well-balanced with plenty of humour.
Scenes when the brothers are growing up through childhood and adolescence (also played by the adult actors) are fun and particularly charming.
Kristofer Harding as the narrator deserves a mention for looming over the proceedings in a sharp suit with menace and a wonderful singing voice, while brothers Mickey and Eddie are acted out with feeling by Sean Jones and Mark Hutchinson.
Blood Brothers is a timeless, very British musical. If you haven't seen it yet, make sure you do now.
Blood Brothers - UK Tour
13 - 25 January - Malvern Theatres - 1684 892 277
27 January - 8 February - Coventry Belgrade Theatre - 024 7655 3055
10 - 15 February - Sunderland Empire Theatre - 0844 871 3022
17 - 22 February - Bradford Alhambra Theatre - 01274 432 000
24 February - 1 March - Hull New Theatre - 01482 300 300
3 - 8 March - Crewe Lyceum Theatre - 01270 368 242
10 - 15 March - Swindon Wyvern Theatre - 01793 524481
17 - 22 March - Doncaster Dome -01302 370777
24 - 29 March - Northampton Royal and Derngate - 01604 624 811
31 March - 5 April - Watford Colosseum - 0845 075 3993
7 - 12 April - Swansea Grand Theatre - 01792 475715
14 - 19 April - Bristol Hippodrome - 0844 871 3012
21 - 26 April - Bridlington Spa Theatre - 01262 678258
28 April - 3 - Ipswich Regent Theatre - 01473 433 100
6 - 10 May - Southsea Kings Theatre - 023 9282 8282
13 - 25 October - Birmingham Hippodrome - 0844 338 5000