REVIEW: Blood Brothers an emotional, energetic musical with humour

“Did you ever hear the story of the Johnstone twins?”

Though brothers do not always share the same blood type or appearance, Blood Brothers allows the audience to envision a spiritual connection that cannot be defined by biology or environment.

The music reinforces the feeling and the story is a moving performance that is nothing short of “smashing.”

A classic British musical set in Liverpool, Blood Brothers tells the tale of fraternal twins raised in the same neighbourhood yet worlds apart; one in poverty and one in privilege.

They unknowingly rediscover each other and form an instant and lasting bond. However, fate is unkind; they fall in love with the same girl and a prophecy is fulfilled. The class system is tragically represented by the twins and though they are innocent of it as boys, it eventually takes its toll.

The story is told with great energy and compassion, topped off with humour and dance numbers such as Tell Me It’s Not True and I’m Not Saying a Word.

At the end, the actors received a resounding standing ovation while retaining the play’s final emotion on their faces – a very impressive moment at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Drayton Entertainment’s artistic director Alex Mustakas has used his experienced hand to guide the cast with perception.

Paul McQuillan plays Mickey, the “poor” brother. He is a familiar face at Drayton Entertainment and a memorable one. In the first half of the show he plays the young Mickey of “nearly eight” so enjoyably well with his innocent face and gangly limbs and boundless energy. He later cuts a convincingly tragic figure in contrast.  He also played in the 1998 Blood Brothers original in his Drayton debut.

Eddie, the “rich’ one is played by Tory Doctor. He too plays a young lad with such gusto and sweetness it is hard  to believe he is over 10 (his cavalry cowboy imitation beats all). As a young man he skillfully portrays privilege tempered with humility and grace.

The twins’ mother is played by Charlotte Moore in the role of Mrs. Johnstone. Her singing voice and earthiness add much to the pathos. Her  musical references to Marilyn Monroe  throughout the production are presented with a range of powerful emotions.

Laura McCarthy plays Linda, the girl of both Mickey and Eddie’s dreams, with great charisma and compassion.

Narrator Bobby Prochaska is seen as a shadowy figure of doom and regret that looms about the stage with quiet dignity. Set designer Stephen Degenstein has created an ingenious stage full of back streets with moving mini-sets for other scenarios.

The book, music and lyrics for Blood Brothers were written by Willy Russell, who also wrote Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita. The show has played all over the world for some 25 years, having employed actors like Russell Crow and David Cassidy.

Blood Brothers runs until Nov. 5. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre, at or by calling 519-747-7788 or toll free at 1-855-372-9866.