Show will be en­dur­ing


When you ex­pe­ri­ence Blood Broth­ers you’ll talk about it. Abbey Mu­si­cal Theatre’s first pro­duc­tion for 2017 is a dra­matic, some­times tragic story that grips the au­di­ence and gives them a sense of clo­sure at the end. No-one will walk away from the show with­out be­ing com­pletely in­volved.

Barry Jones, who’s both the di­rec­tor and mu­si­cal di­rec­tor, says Willy Rus­sell’s Blood Broth­ers is one of those shows that has sub­stance and will be around for decades to come.

Blood Broth­ers has been on Barry’s ‘‘to do’’ list for many years and when he was given the chance to di­rect it, he grabbed it. ’’I rate it very highly. It’s a real piece of theatre. Its themes are time­less.’’

The story, set in the 1970s, re­volves around twins Mickey and Ed­die, sep­a­rated at birth. One was raised by a wealthy fam­ily and the other by a poor fam­ily. Their dif­fer­ent back­grounds take them to op­po­site ends of the so­cial spec­trum. How­ever, the love of the same girl brings them to­gether, even­tu­ally end­ing in tragedy.

Two other char­ac­ters play an in­te­gral part in the fam­ily dy­namic. Mrs John­stone, who gave Ed­die away at birth, is a strug­gling par­ent, sin­gle­hand­edly sup­port­ing her seven (later eight) chil­dren while Mrs Lyons is a dys­func­tional par­ent who sends Ed­die to board­ing school. The twins don’t know how close the fam­ily con­nec­tion is but when their lives in­ter-re­late, trou­ble is on the hori­zon.

Woven into that com­pelling sto­ry­line are two themes. The first is su­per­sti­tion. In re­main­ing faith­ful to Willy Rus­sell’s story, Barry em­pha­sises the ir­ra­tional side of the story where the su­per­nat­u­ral el­e­ments are told by a nar­ra­tor. While he’s not seen by the char­ac­ters, his de­monic pres­ence is felt. Mrs John­stone swears on the Bi­ble she won’t re­veal the iden­tity of the twin she gives up at birth. If she does, calamity will visit both boys on the same day. ’’I’ve made the nar­ra­tor an en­tity in him­self,’’ Barry ex­plains.

The sec­ond theme is fam­ily. In con­trast to Mrs John­stone, who’s a lov­ing, car­ing yet strug­gling mother, Mrs Lyons is in­ept and her life un­rav­els as she lives in con­stant fear of be­ing ex­posed as an in­ad­e­quate par­ent.

The songs en­hance the story and each in turn ad­vances some as­pect of the nar­ra­tive. The clas­sic num­ber from Blood Broth­ers, Tell Me It’s Not True, sung by both moth­ers, re­flects back on the drama and vi­o­lence that’s just oc­curred.

While Blood Broth­ers is Barry’s de­but as a solo di­rec­tor, he’s had 40 years in the orches­tra pit to learn ev­ery as­pect of mu­si­cal theatre. But just when a di­rec­tor’s job is done as the cur­tain rises, he’ll be con­duct­ing the show with a live band. When the cur­tain falls for the fi­nal time, Barry’s job be com­pleted.

Blood Broth­ers is on at The Au­di­to­rium, March 2-18. Book at www.abbey­mu­si­calthe­

Val An­drew, Michael Doody and Tyrell Beck in Blood Broth­ers.

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