Gut-wrenching role steals the show

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Maureen Nolan could not seem to bring herself to smile during her stranding ovation at the opening night of Blood Brothers at Leeds Grand on Monday.

And it’s no surprise, as she used every part of her being in the gut-wrenching final number, Tell Me It’s Not True.

People often talk about Hollywood stars and their ‘method acting,’ but she appeared genuinely distraught at the end of the show, such is her talent.

And it’s no surprise, given that she’s played Mrs Johnstone on and off since 2005.

She’s not the only member of the cast that may be familiar to Blood Brothers fans. When I last saw the show in 2009, several other main roles were played by the same people, including Sean Jones as Mickey and Tracy Spencer as Mrs Lyons. This leads to my only criticism of this otherwise extremely well-done production.

I will always accept the need to suspend belief when at the theatre, but sometimes seeing a group of actors clearly decades older than their character age is a bit distracting.

At first the ‘young’ Mickey, Linda and Eddie galloping around on imaginary horses was charming, but began to grate after a while.

Perhaps it’s time to cast younger actors as the brothers and their friends.

Another minor annoyance for me was the over-use of echo effects on what are powerful-enough voices left alone.

These slight gripe aside, Blood Brothers remains a firm audience favourite, 28 years after its creation.