REVIEW Blood Brothers at Bristol Hippodrome + future programme

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By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 16:04

I wondered what relevance a musical about a disenfranchised working class community tackling issues like poor housing, unemployment and religion would have on a post millennium audience.

Having seen many, many, all-singing and all-dancing shows I am sorry to admit that until very recently I had never heard of Blood Brothers.

A bit like the characters in Blood Brothers I was too busy with childcare, trying to feed my family and keep a roof over our heads that the 1980s just disappeared into a domestic black hole.

Then I watched the three-part BBC 4 series called The Story Of Musicals which rated Willy Russell's Blood Brothers as the best British musical ever made.

So when it opened on Tuesday night for a two week run at the Bristol Hippodrome I took my seat with some anticipation.

And I wasn't disappointed – it is the best musical I have ever seen.

It is funny – hilarious actually; sad – pitifully so; all in equal parts but the script, score and set make it what the television programme claimed – the best ever British musical.

The memorable songs includes Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It's Not True

The first night audience, made up of the young and the not-so-young, gave it a well-deserved standing ovation and clapped and cheered for a full 15 minutes as the final curtain came down.

The show written more than a quarter of a century ago is set in Liverpool and covers the life span of twin brothers separated at birth and brought up in two diverse households – one of privilege and one of poverty.

The cast is headed by Maureen Nolan as Mrs Johnstone, a God-fearing  Catholic mother-of-many, forced to give away at birth one of her sons in a mix-up of superstition and swearing, both on and off the bible.

More usually thought of as part of a band of woman either singing with her sisters or making guest appearances on the lunchtime TV show Loose Women it was a sterling performance by Miss Nolan.

Sean Jones plays the role of the working class hero Mickey from age seven to 30-something with energy and pathos aided and abetted by his goody, goody chorister brother Eddie (Matthew Collyer).

There is lots of adult humour about sex based on contraception and propagation and lots of child play with catapults and toy guns.

The last time I saw adults successful portray children was in the Comic Strip Presents television comedies of the early 1980s when Peter Richardson, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders romped across the screen in a parody of an Enid Blyton tale called Five Go Mad in Dorset.

This was of that ilk and it was absolutely fabulous.

The adopted mother Mrs Lyons (Tracy Spenser), girlfriend Linda (Kelly-Anne Gower), big brother with a plate in his head Sammy (Daniel Taylor) and all the supporting cast from the policemen to milkman, court judge to absentee dad all deserve a mention.

The satanic narrator who acts as the conscience of the main characters is menacingly played by seasoned West End actor Craig Price.

What surprised me most about this musical is how it has stood the passage of time as the laughter from the students seated all around me will testify - but then I suppose jokes about sex never date and fashion has a 30-year cycle.

Blood Brothers is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, March 3. Tickets £14.50-£38.50 with concessions available at certain performances

For details of future shows at the Bristol Hippodrome click HERE.


Based on RKO's motion picture

Starring Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen

Wednesday to Saturday, March 21-31

Evenings at 7.30pm with matinees at 2.30pm on the 22nd, 24th, 28th, 29th and 31st

Tickets £20.50-£52.50 concessions available at certain performances


Monday to Saturday, April 2-7

Evenings Monday to Thursday at 7.30 pm, Friday at 5.30pm and 8.30pm, Saturday at 5pm and 8.30pm

Tickets £13-£40 concessions available on certain performances


American stand-up comedian

Sunday, April  8 at 8pm, tickets £21


Tuesday to Saturday, April 10-14

Tuesday and Friday – La traviata  at 7.15 pm

Wednesday – Beatrice & Benedict at 7.15 pm

Thursday and Saturday – The Marriage of Figaro at 7pm

Tickets £7.50-£39.50 concessions available


Psychic, medium, clairvoyant, fortune-teller

Sunday, April 15 at 7.30 pm

Tickets £23


Tuesday to Saturday, April 17-21

Evenings at 7.30pm, matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets £15.50-£39 concessions available


Masquerade Tour

Sunday, April 22 at 7.30pm

Tickets £25


Starring Todd Carty

Monday to Saturday, April 23-29

Evenings at 7.30pm matinee on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets £11-£44 concessions available at certain performances


Lee Memphis King

Sunday, April 29 at 7.30pm

Tickets £21-£23 concessions available


Susan Boyle will be joining the cast for this musical based on her life story

Tuesday to Saturday, May 1-5

Evenings at 7.30pm matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets £14-38 concessions available at certain performances


Carpet Remnant World

Sunday, May 6 at 7.30pm

Tickets £17.50-£18


Monday to Saturday, May 7-12

Evenings at 7.30pm matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets £12.50-£30 concessions available on certain performances


Stand-up comedian

Sunday, May 13 at 7.30pm

Tickets £16

Concessions available


Craic Dealer

Monday to Wednesday, May 14-16 at 8pm

Tickets £21


Thursday to Saturday, May 17-19t at 7.30pm

Tickets £34-£44


The spectacular new production

Wednesday to Saturday, May 23-June 30

Evenings at 7.30pm matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets £20-£55 concessions available at certain performances


Starring Vincent Simone and  Flavia Cacace

Wednesday to Saturday, July 4-7 at 7.30pm

Matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets: £17.50- £40.50 concessions available at certain performances



Box office opens on Wednesday, February 22

Set against the majesty of Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney's The Lion King is a worldwide theatrical phenomenon.

It opens on Wednesday to Saturday, August 31-November 17.

Tickets priced from £20


Casting to be announced

Friday to Sunday, December 7-January 6, 2013

Performances are 2pm and 7pm except Sundays, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve at 1pm and 5pm. No performances on December 11, 18, 25 or January 1

Tickets £13.75-£33.75 with concessions available at certain performances



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