Blood Brothers ~ Malvern Theatres

Blood Brothers, the musical that has had a special place in my heart for a long time – it will always be a five star production in my eyes and has yet to deviate from that honour. Each time I see it feels like watching again for the first time as it’s easy to find something I may have missed on other occasions.

If you don’t know the story let me enlighten you… the action is set in Liverpool where class difference has never been more prominent and centres around Mrs Johnstone, her family and struggles. She was married but he scarpered as soon as the number of children she was having almost rivaled that of a football team. With twins on the way and the welfare threatening to take her kids away she reluctantly strikes up a bargain with her well to do employer, Mrs Lyons. Splitting up her twin boys, Mickey grows up with the big boisterous family and of course, Mrs Johnstone as his mother, whereas Edward is raised by Mr and Mrs Lyons, with Mr Lyons remaining in the dark about the reason why his apparently barren wife has born him a son. As the lads grow up, having met each other and become friends when they were age 7 (nearly 8) there’s a love triangle developing with a girl called Linda and the class divide is set to catalyse fatal consequences.

You’re bound to have heard a number of the timeless songs; there’s ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’, ‘My Child’, ‘Easy Terms’ and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ to name a few. Linzi Hateley plays the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone, taking over from Lyn Paul, she’s made the role her own. Mark Hutchinson plays Edward (Eddie) and his years of experience in the part are very telling, it’s almost like a second skin for him. Robbie Scotcher is a moody, shadow-dwelling narrator, the power of his vocals wows and he possesses extraordinary stage presence. Daniel Taylor will always be my Sammy, the tantrums are show-stopping and there’s always a splash of real menace which hints at what the future holds for the character. Danielle Corlass gives another flawless performance as Linda. Tim Churchill is as superb as always, excellent as Mr Lyons and hilarious as the milkman cum gynaecologist. The ensemble are also as strong as ever with Graham Martin reducing the audience to tears of laughter with his performances as the Judge and the two vastly different teachers. Amy-Jane Ollies also shines as Donna Marie and Miss Jones. Andy Owens never fails to give a wonderfully funny portrayal of the nerdy pal, Perkins.

Last night belonged, for me personally, to Sean Jones as Mickey and Sarah Jane Buckley as Mrs Lyons. That’s because it was the last time that I was to see them in the show. They’re both bound for pastures new and with Sean having 15 years under his belt it’s going to be rather strange getting used to a new Mickey. Sarah Jane joined the cast in 2016, but it’s no secret that I was already a huge fan (and still am a huge fan!) as I loved her as Kathy Barnes in Channel Four’s Hollyoaks. As Mrs Lyons she has surpassed my expectations, adding an extra something special to the ‘bridesmaid’ of the female roles. I was also lucky enough to see her play Mrs Johnstone as she has understudied the part, and her performance still resonates now. One of my favourite experiences in the theatre.

Sean Jones IS Mickey, so although I’m certain the new one will be fantastic and find his feet, I’m sure the loss of Sean from the cast will be felt keenly. Wishing both of them all the best for their future roles anyway – which I know they will both be amazing in. Look out for them, and indeed catch them in one of the venues that they will tour to with Blood Brothers before they finish. This is the first of their four remaining weeks with the tour.

All in all, Blood Brothers is one of the best nights at the theatre you could wish for, miss it at your peril! If you want to catch it at the wonderful Malvern Festival Theatre, it plays there until Saturday 2nd February: blood-brothers

Photo credits: Robert Day

The Sooty Show ~ Stafford Gatehouse Theatre

The Sooty Show is on UK tour and you can book your tickets to see the TV legend, here: The Sooty Show Live

Star rating: *****

Sooty is a television legend, so to be able to see him with his pals – Sweep and Soo on stage was a treat for not only me, my husband and the other adults in the audience who have also grown up with the little yellow bear during his 70 year career. To be able to share the show with our three year old was even better and goes to prove that the popular trio are still able to engage with audiences, new and old!

Richard Cadell is their right-hand man and he is a terrific comedian, he’s as talented at physical comedy as he is at keeping the old cheesy jokes flowing. A natural addition to the set-up and adding the comic timing required to make the show what it is.

With a fabulous ‘showbiz’ set and audience participation aplenty, the magic, humour and energy was boundless. I find it baffling that Sooty, who doesn’t ‘speak’ still draws the attention of the young theatre-goers as well as the adults. It goes to show that basic family entertainment with a simple yet effective storyline still has its place.

There are many dates on the tour schedule, so get ourselves along to see a real star on stage! Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Busy!

 

 

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid!

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid has one final performance at Canal Café Theatre, tonight! Book your tickets here: Canal Cafe Theatre Box Office

Star rating: *****

45 minutes of sheer innovative and evocative writing and performance. Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid captured our imaginations from the outset, it makes a bold and impacting statement as performer, Serafina Salvador emerges in a wedding dress made of bank notes and marries her laptop! It’s the start of a journey of discovery, digital dilemmas and ultimate burn-out, over-seen by Destiny.

The show has been beautifully written by Serafina, she has used a mixture of verse, rhyme and monologue to capture the spirit of an eager young banking minion by the name of ‘Prayer’. So clear and concise is the imagery created by the words that we were instantly transported to her place of work and comprehended the nerves, anxiety and buzz of the environment. Although the piece is based on experience of the banking world and trading floor, the essence of the story applies to most workplace situations. It was clear that everyone in the full house identified with one or more of the emotions and situations presented. There’s also comedy in abundance and great comic timing too.

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid! also offers excellent audience interaction, especially on the part of Destiny (played by Anne Musisi). Destiny is a loveable and care-free character who is determined to rescue Prayer from herself. She has a song which was performed brilliantly and added an extra dimension to the overall flavour of the piece. Andrew Hyde also puts in a notable performance as the voice over of the Deputy, liaising with Destiny to help her with her mission.

Simone Vause has directed the show and her vision is palpable, she has made the best use of the space, too.

Overall, a thought-provoking play which resonates on many levels and could also lead you to question your own life. Let’s hope we all have Destiny on hand keeping a watchful eye on our choices!

 

Reviewed by Guest Bloggers: Hayley Makepeace and Jen Franklin

 

 

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