20 year wait for Blood Brothers

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

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.

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