Bill Kenwright‘s legendary production of the international smash hit musical Blood Brothers is rumoured to return to the West End in 2022. The much-loved musical, which performed to sell-out houses and standing ovations on its most recent UK tour in 2019-2020 will reportedly play a limited run in London.
Winner of four Best Musical awards in London and nominated for seven Tony Award on Broadway, Bill Kenwright’s original production of Blood Brothers surpassed 10,000 performances in London’s West End, one of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone.
Written by award-winning playwright Willy Russell (Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine), few musicals have been received with such acclaim as the multi-award-winning Blood Brothers. Considere “one of the best musicals ever written” (Sunday Times), it has been affectionately christened the ‘Standing Ovation Musical’, as inevitably it “brings the audience cheering to its feet and roaring its approval” (Daily Mail).
Blood Brothers originally opened at the Albery Theatre (now the Noel Coward Theatre) on 27 August 1988, closing on 16 November 1991 and moving to the Phoenix Theatre, where it ran from 21 November 1991 to 10 November 2012.
The acclaimed score includes Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the hit song Tell Me It’s Not True.
What is Blood Brothers about?
Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving tale of twins separated at birth, who grow up on the opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with tragic consequences.
When Mrs Johnstone, a young mother, is deserted by her husband and left to her own devices to provide for seven hungry children she takes a job as a housekeeper in order to make ends meet. It is not long before her brittle world crashes around her when she discovers herself to be pregnant yet again – this time with twins! In a moment of weakness and desperation, she enters a secret pact with her employer which leads inexorably to the show’s shattering climax.
Who is in the cast of Blood Brothers?
Casting for the West End revival of Blood Brothers is to be announced. Famous names to feature in the central role of Mrs Johnston have included Barbara Dickson, Stephanie Lawrence, Clodagh Rodgers, Kiki Dee, Lyn Paul, Siobhan McCarthy, Katie Scott, four of the Nolan sisters (Linda, Bernie, Denise and Maureen), Spice Girl Melanie and Lyn Paul.
Written by Willy Russell (Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine), one of this country’s leading contemporary dramatists, Blood Brothers is directed by Bob Tomson & Bill Kenwright, with Musical Direction by Matt Malone, Sound by Dan Samson, Set & Costumes by Andy Walmsley and Lighting by Nick Richings .
News about Blood BrothersMore >
Tell Me It’s Not True! After 24 years of emotional finales Willy Russell’s modern classic Blood Brothers is to bow out of the West End this year.
The long-running show will have notched up over 10,000 performances in London by its close on 27 October 2012, making it the third longest-running musical in town after Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.
The show started life at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983 before opening at the Lyric Theatre in London for a criminally short run. Bill Kenwright then stepped in and revived the show at the Albery Theatre (now the Noel Coward Theatre) on 27 August 1988. It transferred to its current home at the Phoenix Theatre in 1991.
Blood Brothers has subsequently travelled the world and recently undertook a major tour of the UK. The show is set to continue to tour after its London run finishes this October.
Willy Russell’s musical is set in Liverpool and tells the tale of two twins who are separated at birth and later reunited by a twist of fate.
The current London cast includes Vivienne Carlyle as Mrs Johnstone, Philip Stewart as Narrator, Mark Rice Oxley as Mickey, Paul Christopher as Eddie, Abigail Jaye as Mrs Lyons and Louise Clayton as Linda.
The starring role of the mother, Mrs Johnstone, has been played by countless actresses over the last 24 years in the West End, including Barbara Dickson, Stephanie Lawrence, Clodagh Rodgers, Kiki Dee, Lyn Paul, Siobhan McCarthy, Katie Scott, four of the Nolan sisters (Linda, Bernie, Denise and Maureen), Spice Girl Melanie C and Niki Evans.
Blood Brothers has won many awards including an Olivier Award for Best Musical and a Best Actress in a Musical gong for the show’s star Barbara Dickson. Also Con O’Neill won Best Actor in a Musical in 1988 and Mel C was nominated this year for Best Actress in a Musical.
Three cheers for Bill Kenwright, who collected an honorary degree from the University of Liverpool yesterday.
The hard-working West End theatre impresario was said to be “delighted” after picking up the honour at the city’s Philharmonic Hall. His partner, the actress Jenny Seagrove, said that she was “very proud”.
The Liverpudlian, who was born in Wavertree, started as an actor before setting up Bill Kenwright Ltd, which has become one of the world’s most prolific theatre production businesses. His production of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers has played in the West End since 1988. He is also Chairman of Everton football club.
His other London productions include Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Playhouse Theatre, and he is co-producer of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium and forthcoming transfer on the National’s The Pitmen Painters at the Duchess Theatre. His company also runs a myriad of UK touring productions including Spamalot, Evita and Joseph.
Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow also picked up an honorary degree at the ceremony.
Bill was awarded a CBE in 2000 for services to film and theatre, and this latest honour is justly deserved: He continues to be one of the West End’s greatest and most passionate champions.
Book tickets to Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre
Book tickets to Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Playhouse Theatre
Book tickets to The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium
Book tickets to The Pitmen Painters at the Duchess Theatre
Production photos of Natasha Hamilton in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre
Former Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton has followed follow Spice Girl Melanie C into the West End playing the lead role in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre.
Hamilton, 28, is the youngest actress to play the lead role of Mrs Johnstone at the Phoenix Theatre in London. She told the Liverpool Echo that by the end of the show “I’ve been sobbing, crying my eyes out when my sons are dead on the floor. It’s just hard not to feel that emotion. The play’s so powerful and it tugs at those heart strings so much.”
Natasha joins a roll call of famous theatrical ladies who have played the part of Mrs Johnstone including Mel C, Barbara Dickson, Petula Clark, Kiki Dee, X-Factor runner-up Nikki Evans and most recently Maureen Noaln.
Photos by Roy Tan