Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers now 21 years and counting!
The musical Blood Brothers, by Willy Russell, is one of the longest-running musicals in London’s West End. The current production began in 1988 and is still running at the Phoenix Theatre. It has long since developed a cult following and Blood Brothers fans around the world.
Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with tragic consequences.
The music includes the songs Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the famous and emotional song Tell Me It’s Not True.
Critics have given Blood Brothers a massive thumbs-up, with the News of the World describing it as “Devastating. A masterpiece. If you haven't seen it, go. If you have, go again!” and The Mail on Sunday as “***** Gripping, gritty and superbly hummable, it's a must.”
But what makes Blood Brothers, now commonly regarded as one of the all time great British musicals so popular? Perhaps it is because Blood Brothers has touched the hearts and minds of a generation of theatregoers in dealing with two of the most pressing social issues of our time - inequality and unemployment. Certainly in these more difficult times, Blood Brothers continues to have resonance and relevance.
Earlier this year, Melanie C of the Spice Girls performed in Blood Brothers – the first Spice girl to perform in London’s Theatreland. Interestingly, a new musical, provisionally titled Viva Forever and based on the music of the Spice Girls is set to open in the West End next year.
The musical has a contemporary plot, revolving around fraternal twins who were separated at birth. The twins' different backgrounds take them to opposite ends of the social spectrum, one becoming an Oxbridge-graduated councillor and the other unemployed and in prison. They both fall in love with the same girl, causing a tear in their friendship which leads to a tragic ending.
Blood Brothers premiered at the Lyric Theatre in April 1983. It later transferred to the Lyric and Albery before finally settling in its current home at the Phoenix in November 1991 where it continues to sell extremely well and it set to remain busy at the Phoenix theatre box office for many years to come.
The main character, Mrs Johnstone has been played by a variety of stars of the stage, most notably, Barbara Dickson, Stephanie Lawrence, Clodagh Rodgers, Kiki Dee, Lyn Paul, Siobhan McCarthy, Katie Scott, Alfie Stoppani, Joe Balfour, Laura Jones and even four of the Nolan sisters.
Blood Brothers has also toured the UK, been performed in Australia and on Broadway before heading off on a US tour, starring Petula Clark. It remains a firm favourite and is extremely popular with school groups and a whole new generation of fans eager to buy Blood Brothers tickets!