Blood Brothers review, by Amanda Chalmers

HAILED as one of the best musicals of all time, Willy Russell’s epic tale has triumphed across the globe.

And now its magic has extended to our little bit of that globe after finally arriving at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate Theatre.

For those still unfamiliar with the story, it’s the tragic tale of Liverpool twins separated at birth and living life on opposite sides of the tracks. Neither knows of the other’s existence until the boys born on the same day also die on the same day having only just discovered the true nature of their relationship.

It’s an emotional journey with a dramatic climax that we are warned about from curtain up. But it’s not absent of laughs too, mainly delivered courtesy of the blood brothers themselves Mickey, played by Sean Jones and Eddie played by Chris Carswell.

The duo were a delightful pairing with polished performances and split-second comic timing. And it is no surprise to learn this marks a return to the role for Sean who has previously played Mickey in the West End.

It is a return also for leading lady Niki Evans (a 2007 X-Factor finalist) whose portrayal of twins’ mum Mrs Johnstone was nothing less than breathtaking.

She captured the spirit and sadness of the character with true aplomb in a challenging performance that’s more emotionally charged than almost any I’ve seen in musical theatre. Niki’s tears on final curtain were genuine - as was the audience appreciation. A standing ovation on opening night was the seal of approval it most definitely deserved.

If feel good is what you’re after then, quite frankly, best give this a miss. Otherwise, book your seats now. You won’t regret it.

Blood Brothers plays at the Derngate until Saturday. Tickets are available from the box office on 01604 470470.