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Review: Blood Brothers returns to Liverpool Empire in a class of its own
IT'S here for two weeks and as the show starts with the ending, I will reveal the production ends with a standing ovation...yet again.
Willy Russell's magnificent musical play is as powerful, emotive and classy as ever.
Directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, it is as relevant now as it was 28 years ago when it was first created in Liverpool by Willy - and it's since been seen all over the world.
The fabulous element about seeing Blood Brothers is that every time you go it's different...but the same.
Like listening to your favourite CD, or re-reading your best book, or recalling melancholy memories of a lost love, you know you will always come back to it, time and time again.
And you will always find something new.
Each new production, whether it's the leading lady, Mrs Johnstone or the twins - one given away at birth to a rich, barren lady, the other brought up in dignifed poverty - always provides the audience with a fresh aspect to marvel at.
The sheer beauty of Blood Brothers has always been in the storytelling and the songs.
The essence of its appeal is its simplicity. And that is why every time I see it, the ending brings tears to my eyes - that might sound corny, but it's true.
This story of "class" and whatever meaning you want to wrap around the sentiment, brings out the raw emotions of the audience, some of whom have never seen it before, others who have seen it more than 30 times.
The fairground sequence featuring wonderful Wurlitzer sounds and a backdrop of New Brighton Tower brought back memories of childhood for me.
Other scenes resonate for various reasons, and that's why Willy has created a piece of history that makes you laugh, reflect and cry all at the same time.
I have reviewed it so many times, but with each and every production it gets easier to do, because there is a lot of love on and off stage for it - not only in this version, but every single version.
We are all part of the story.
Mrs Johnstone, this time played by Maureen Nolan, makes her own feisty, formidable stamp on the role with touches of beautiful Liverpool Irish accents.
The twins Mickey (Sean Jones) and Edward (Mark Hutchinson) are as faultless as you now expect - but this is an ensemble piece.
I have to say narrator Warwick Evans is masterful in creating the on-stage, ghostly, black-suited, weary storyteller who doesn't really want to tell us the tale, but he guides us perfectly through this bitter-sweet tragedy.
The music is magical: from Easy Terms to Tell Me It's Not True - this time around there's some heart-tugging acoustic strings adding even more poignancy.
This is a modern-day classic and seeing it back on Merseyside is like greeting an old friend who has come home.
Globe Rating: 10/10 Exceptional
Blood Brothers is at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday, November 9.
For ticket details call the box office: 0844 871 3017.
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