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Twin-engined tale still full of power; REVIEW: Blood Brothers, New Theatre, Cardiff.

IT may be almost 30 years since Blood Brothers premiered in London's West End, but Willy Russell's story is still as relevant, poignant and enjoyable as ever.

The hit musical looks at that age-old dilemma - nature versus nurture - with tragic consequences.

Over the years, a wealth of talented singers/actresses have taken on the leading role as Mrs Johnstone, from Petula Clark to spice Girl Mel C. In this touring production, New Seeker Lyn Paul puts in a gutsy turn as the down-on-her-luck Liverpudlian housewife. She particularly showcases her powerful voice in recurring track Marilyn Monroe, in which she shares her dreams with the audience.

Mrs Johnstone lives in a council terrace with her brood of children after her husband walks out.

Struggling to pay the bills, she takes a job as a cleaner for Mr and Mrs Lyons.

When Mrs Johnstone discovers she's pregnant with twins, Mrs Lyons, who is unable to have children, begs her to let her have one of the babies, so she reluctantly gives one of them up.

The musical follows the fortunes of the boys over the years - Mickey is a cheeky Scouser following in the footsteps of his naughty elder siblings as the Johnstones struggle to make ends meet while Edward has a life of privilege.

After a chance meeting, the boys strike up a friendship which endures over the years, despite the efforts of Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons to keep them apart. It can't be easy for grown men to act the part of eight-year-olds, or even teenagers, but Sean Jones as Mickey and Paul Davies as Edward pull it off. Jones really proves his acting range as he develops from teen rascal to a young father on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Daniel Taylor is a revelation as Mickey's troublesome older brother Sammy and as Mickey's sweetheart Linda, Kelly-Anne Gower puts in a lovely performance.

While there may be tragedy, there are also plenty of moments of light relief and some great tunes to boot. But whether it will resolve that age-old dilemma - nature versus nurture - is another matter. Karen Price Blood Brothers is at the New Theatre, Cardiff until July 3. The box office is 029 2087 8889
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 23, 2010
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