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Captivating musical telling tragic tale is unmissable – review

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Blood Brothers – Alive Corn Exchange, LynnA multi-award-winning musical production is captivating audiences as it returns to Lynn this week.I was lucky enough to be one of those in the crowd watching the ever-excellent Blood Brothers at the Alive Corn Exchange on Tuesday – its opening night for this week’s run in Lynn.

Sean Jones as Mickey and Joe Sleight as Eddie in Blood Brothers. Picture: Jack Merriman

For those unfamiliar with Willy Russell’s story, Blood Brothers tells the moving tale of twins who are separated at birth in the late 50s and grow up in the 60s and 70s in vastly different circumstances in Liverpool.Despite attempts to keep them apart, they meet again as young boys and quickly bond – deciding to become ‘blood brothers’ – which has fateful consequences as they grow up.As always, from the moment the music started and we watched as the two brothers – Sean Jones as Mickey and Joe Sleight as Eddie – took to the stage to catapult us to that tragic ending, I had goosebumps.

The UK tour cast of Blood Brothers, which is set in Liverpool. Picture: Jack Merriman

Having seen most of the same cast perform this show in Norwich last year, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and they were just as terrific this time around.Former X Factor star Niki Colwell Evans – who I had seen in the show as a teenager – is fantastic as Mrs Johnstone.She takes on the role of the working class mother who is faced with an impossible decision after her employer Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley) suggests she give one of her two babies up to her so that she can afford to support the children she already has.Colwell Evans is a powerhouse vocalist and you can’t help but feel for her character as she experiences an unimaginable tragedy.

Niki Colwell Evans as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers. Picture: Jack Merriman
Niki Colwell Evans as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers. Picture: Jack Merriman

Scott Anson was the narrator who was excellent in this important, foreboding role – reminding the characters of the consequences of their actions.Meanwhile, Buckley gives a brilliant performance as a woman who is desperate to become a mother but becomes paranoid and overprotective of her son.As for the brothers themselves, Jones has the audience eating out of his hands as Mickey – the twin who stayed with his biological family unaware of his brother’s existence.He transforms from a happy-go-lucky youngster to a teenager finding his way and ultimately a down-trodden adult who leads the show to a tense climax in a jealousy-driven rage.

Some of the Blood Brothers UK Tour cast. Picture: Jack Merriman

Sleight is just as commanding as Eddie – whose life plays out in stark contrast to his twin – and Gemma Brodrick is brilliant as Linda, who we watch change from a cheeky child to an anxious adult.There are no weak links in the cast, also including Timothy Lucas as Sammy and Tim Churchill as Mr Lyons, and you feel you are in safe hands throughout the story, which despite its tragic nature, also features plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.With memorable songs including Marilyn Monroe, Shoes Upon The Table and the gutwrenching Tell Me It’s Not True, this show – directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright – is just as unmissable now as it has ever been.

Timothy Lucas as Sammy and Sean Jones as Mickey in Blood Brothers. Picture: Jack Merriman

Mention must also go to those in the crew – without whom there would not be the brilliant set, costumes, lighting or music to match the efforts of those on stage.Blood Brothers, which was first performed in the 80s, continues to resonate with audiences four decades on and after more than 10,000 performances in London’s West End, with its thought-provoking commentary on superstition and social class.It is absolutely a must-watch and the cast and crew fully deserved the standing ovation on Tuesday night.The show continues at Lynn’s Alive Corn Exchange until Saturday. Visit kingslynncornexchange.co.uk/theatre/whats-on/music/blood-brothers/#tickets.Review by Rebekah Chilvers

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