Blood Brothers at heart is a story about nature vs nurture which demands attention and will be on show at the New Wimbledon Theatre in November.
Liverpool playwright Willy Russell is a genius at writing gutsy, believable parts for women. His three best known shows are Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and Blood Brothers. The common denominator being the female lead who has had a hard life but has somehow held on to her dreams and her sense of humour.
Blood Brothers – which comes to the New Wimbledon Theatre this week in a production by fellow Liverpudlian Bill Kenwright – is on the face of it a musical about twins separated at birth who grow up with their lives fatally intertwined. But the true star of the show is the boys’ mother, Mrs Johnstone, who is the emotional heart of the story and has all the best songs.
Hard up after her feckless husband walks out, with no money for the baby’s milk and the furniture being repossessed by bailiffs, mother of six Mrs Johnstone discovers she is expecting twins and agrees – foolish woman! – to give one of the babies away to the hard-faced, rich cow whose house she cleans.
Some of the best known names in music have played the part, from Petula Clark to Carole King, but the Mrs Johnstone created by West End star Linzi Hateley is a match for any of them. Hateley’s singing voice is warm and true, every word clearly enunciated in a Scouse accent. She brings rueful humour to Mrs J’s dilemmas, easy warmth to her mothering, and anguish to the final scene.
Blood Brothers will be on show at the New Wimbledon Theatre during November and only return in April 2019. Follow Blood Brothers on Twitter.
Written by Jenny Booth