20 year wait for Blood Brothers
Every so often a role is auditioned that someone’s wanted to do all their lives.
When Abbey Musical Theatre (AMT) chose Blood Brothers as their first show for 2017, Val Andrew was delighted.
"I saw it in Glasgow 20 years ago and loved the role of Mrs Johnstone. I decided then that if someone was going to do the musical, I’d audition for it," she says.
Mrs Johnstone is a pivotal character in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers and Val is ideal to play the role of the struggling mother who adopts out one of her twins at birth. Eddie is raised by the wealthy Lyons family while Mickey remains with his financially poor family.
Their different backgrounds take them to opposite ends of the social spectrum. Eddie becomes a councillor while Mickey is unemployed and spends time in prison.
Mrs Johnstone’s life is an emotional rollercoaster and she tries to protect Mickey as best she can, especially when the boys meet up without knowing they’re related.
Two numbers resonate so much with Val that she’s emotional every time she performs them. One is Easy Terms which she sings when giving Eddie away and the other, Tell Me It’s Not True, she performs with Mrs Lyons (Jo Sale) at the show’s end when the boys’ relationship ends in tragedy.
"While Mrs Johnstone may be as hard as nails, she’s also very maternal and protective of her family," Val Andrew says. "I’m a mum and, in the final number, I feel complete heartbreak for her."
Mrs Johnstone is the central character in this dramatic, engaging and sometimes amusing show. As well as the narrative focusing on her, she has a fascination for tragic screen star Marilyn Monroe. Three of her songs relate to the Hollywood legend including Tell Me It’s Not True.
"Blood Brothers is a great show. It’s so infectious. It’s a musical about family values and love conquering all," she says.
Val has a busy family life. Emily is 11 and Cameron nine. Husband Chris is Wing Commander at Ohakea Airforce Base.
Into this busy life, Val finds time to perform one major show a year, sometimes two. In 2014 she played Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera, Donna in MAMMA MIA! (2015), Jellylorum/Griddlebone in CATS (2016) and Florence in Dannevirke Operatic’s CHESS, also last year.
Val loves shows because of the music, story line and the people in them. If ever AMT decided to stage WICKED or Mary
Poppins, there are two characters she’d like to play but that’s in the future.
For now there’s the role she’s always wanted to perform in Blood Brothers.
AMT’s Blood Brothers will be performed at The Auditorium, March 2-18, 2017. Bookings at abbeymusicaltheatre.co.nz.
Brothers Mickey (Michael Doody) and Eddie (Tyrell Beck) with their mother Mrs Johnstone played by Val Andrews.