Telling the story of a woman and her two fraternal twin sons who were separated at birth, Blood Brothers is an interesting musical in that it not only shows how the impact the decision to split them up has on their mother but it uses the class system in Britain as a way to show how it can affect the outcome of each twin, since one is raised in a rich household where the child becomes a well off council member and the other twin is raised in a poor one where he ends up out of work, depressed and spends time in prison due to his involvement in a robbery gone wrong. The show also uses a Narrator to comment on the story, which is stepped in superstition, and he also plays several humorous parts in the show.
Mrs. Lyons then discovers that her son Edward's "friend" that he always talks about is actually Mickey and so she forces her husband to move the family away. However the first act ends with Mrs. Johnstone's family being rehoused from the inner city to an outlying town that just happens to be where Mrs. Lyons and Eddie have moved to. The second act finds the boys in their teen years meeting up again as they both fall in love with the same girl, Linda. Eventually Mickey gets Linda pregnant and they get married but then Mickey gets fired from his job and then becomes depressed and addicted to anti-depressants due to time spent in prison as an accessory to murder. When Mickey believes Eddie is having an affair with Linda he shows up with a gun to confront him and the show ends with the superstition coming true or is it "class" and not the superstition that is to be blamed?
|Carole King as "Mrs. Johnstone"|
The Broadway production ran for two years, closing on April 30, 1995. It initially starred Stephanie Lawrence as Mrs. Johnstone with Con O'Neill and Mark Michael Hutchinson as Mickey and Eddie and Warwick Evans as the narrator. All four played those roles in London with O'Neill winning the Olivier Award for his performance. The original Mrs. Lyons on Broadway was Barbara Walsh. Future Broadway star Kerry Butler made her Broadway debut as a member of the ensemble and an understudy for the role of Linda.
Petula Clark made her Broadway debut when she replaced Lawrence and was joined with half brothers David and Shaun Cassidy as Mickey and Eddie. The three of them would also record an "International" cast recording of the show with creator/composer Willy Russell as the Narrator. Barbara Dickson was the original "Mrs. Johnstone" in the UK, with Kiki Dee playing the part in the London revival. Other notable Broadway replacements included iconic 1960's pop singers Carole King and Helen Reddy. I saw both Lawrence and King in the show and have to say that while Lawrence was excellent King was also exceptional.
"Did you ever hear the story of the Johnstone twins? As like each other as two new pins. How one was kept and one give away. How they were born and they died on the self same day."
Barbara Dickson, the original "Mrs. Johnstone" in 1983 sings "Easy Terms":
The Original Broadway cast peforms on the Tony Awards: