Review: Blood Brothers, Ipswich Regent, until Saturday, May 3

Blood Brothers starring Maureen Nolan and Robbie Scotcher

Blood Brothers starring Maureen Nolan and Robbie Scotcher - Credit: Archant

It is nearly 10 years since I first saw Blood Brothers in the West End, and it was an experience that quite literally blew me away.

The powerful storyline takes you on an emotional journey and forces you to reassess your own life, making you immensely grateful for the hand that fate dealt you.

But what really sticks in my mind about the show is the passion that Maureen Nolan brought to the role of Mrs Johnstone.

Four of the Nolan’s have played the role – Maureen, Denise, Linda and the late Bernie. And Maureen is back at the helm for the current UK tour, which is in Ipswich until Saturday.

Despite the passing of time, it is easy to see why she has won such critical acclaim for her portrayal of Mrs Johnstone over the years.

Nolan embodies the role, and is truly believable as the stoic Catholic matriarch who battles to hold her family together. In fact, the role could have been written especially for her.

Opening with Marilyn Monroe, a quirky song that tells how Mrs Johnstone went from a dancing queen to mother of many in just a few short years, the audience were transfixed.

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But it was during her second rendition of Marilyn Monroe that we truly warmed to her - Nolan got the giggles but stoically tried to hold it together, much to our amusement.

It may be an understated role, but that of the narrator in Blood Brothers is vital in moving the story forwards.

A sinister character who literally lurks in the shadows, he looms large throughout and drives the production. Kristofer Harding, who takes on this key role, has a strong voice that rivals that of Nolan.

The twins, Eddie and Mickey, are played by Sean Jones and Mark Hutchinson. Many actors struggle with the demands of playing young children, over exaggerating the mannerisms in a comical fashion. Both Jones and Hutchinson managed to strike the balance and were convincing and endearing as seven year olds.

The musical is now more than 25 years old, has been described as dated, but Willy Russell’s classic is still just that. Blood Brothers lives on and will continue to do so for years to come.