WILLY Russell's musical masterpiece is back on tour and four curtain calls on the opening night in New Brighton said it all.

The touring version always attracts a wide audience and here on Merseyside it is like seeing an old friend.

I have been reviewing the show since 1983 and every single time I leave the theatre I shed genuine tears.

I know it's going to happen to me time and time again because this stunning, heart-tugging, funny and poignant tale of class is an emotional journey and one where it is impossible not to be moved.

Wirral Globe: Production image from 'Blood Brothers'Production image from 'Blood Brothers' (Image: courtesy of Floral Pavilion)

Willy Russell's gift is in making us laugh and cry and that is all down to good, old-fashioned storytelling.

The story begins with two babies reluctantly separated at birth.

One is brought up by a well off couple the other in much poorer surroundings.

Mrs Johnstone is the single mum who hands over one of her new- born twins to the upper class Mrs Lyons.

We see how their respective upbringings affect their later lives.

Playing Mrs Johnstone is Niki Colwell Evans who we see actually 'age' in the process.

It is an accomplished performance as the consistently heart-broken woman who lives to regret her actions.

Niki has a powerful voice that soars and simmers in equal measure.

Easy Terms, Tell Me It's Not True and A Light Romance show why she is such a favourite in this demanding role.

And her two boys Mickey and Edward are pitched perfectly by two very talented actors who immediately connect with the audience.

Sean Jones as Mickey seems to get better (if that's possible) with every performance - squeezing out every ounce of sadness and humour.

Edward is played by Joe Sleight who captures the innocence, early charm and later short-lived maturity of the other likeable lad.

In the centre of it all is Linda played by Gemma Brodrick who is top-notch. A warm portrayal of a cheeky school girl who grows into a pained wife and mum.

Gemma stamps her own mark on Linda's tug-of-love dilemma.

Scott Anson offers a darker than usual narrator relaying the story like a weary ghost in the background.

And full marks to Sarah Jane Buckley who plays the increasingly pressurised Mrs Lyons who borders on madness created by her own obsessions.

The reason Blood Brothers succeeds on all levels is that whoever works on it - in front of and behind the curtains - loves, respects and cares about it.

The late producer Bill Kenwright once told me every member of every cast and crew takes ownership of Blood Brothers and through that dedication so, too, does every audience.

If you have seen Blood Brothers before then you will find this a superb production.

If you have not then there is no better introduction to its magic.

I say 'introduction' because you will want to see it again and again.

Verdict: Five stars

A timeless classic. It is at the Floral Pavilion until Saturday.

Tickets from 0151 666 0000