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Blood Brothers a delicate balance of gritty social satire and heartfelt emotion

blood-brothers-(2)

From left: Emily Moffat/Linda, Tom Harris/Eddie, Carlotta Rutledge/Mrs. Johnstone, Kevin Pierson/Mickey, Penny Kitchen/Mrs. Lyons

 

Blood Brothers Review – By Tanya Huff
Friday night’s opening gala of Blood Brothers at the Regent Theatre was a high energy show filled with astounding performances that moved the attentive audience to both laughter and tears. The County Theatre Group has done a stellar job of bringing this long running West End musical to the local stage.

When we think of musical theatre, we tend to think of big production numbers and characters bursting into song instead of conversation but Blood Brothers, the story of twins separated at birth, is more a cross between a rock opera and a Greek tragedy. Tom Higginbottom, who as The Narrator plays the roll of the Greek chorus, both bringing the audience into the story as well as moving the story forward, makes the stage his own with an almost arrogant self-confidence and a strong voice that moves easily from pure musical theatre to classic rock.

Carlotta Rutledge, as Mrs. Johnstone, shares some of The Narrator’s storytelling as well as being one of the five pivotal characters within the story. She has a beautifully clear voice and the kind of effortless stage presence that can only be the result of both hard work and talent. Mrs. Johnstone is a cheerful sparrow of a character, determined to make the best of a bad situation and Rutledge invites the audience into her life, deftly wielding both humour and pathos. Penny Kitchen’s Mrs. Lyons is, in direct contrast, upper class, distinctly twitchy, and closed off from life. It can’t be easy to play closed while simultaneously making hopes and fears open to the audience but Kitchen does an admirable job. The duet between the two women is a highlight.

Tom Harris, as Eddie Lyons, the twin given away, and Kevin Pierson as Mickey, the twin remaining, have the unenviable role of having to age from nearly eight to mid-20s on stage. This is done not with tricks or effects, but with strong acting from both men, Pierson throwing himself into his role as a trouble-making urchin while Harris holds himself on the edge as the little boy who desperately wants a friend. Emily Moffatt’s Linda, the girl who loves them both, is like a ray of sunshine into both their lives, as well as the production, whenever she’s on stage.

The sets are minimal and cleverly designed to slide in and out of street scenes and kitchens with no interruption to the flow of the storytelling. There were a few moments during the show when the music overwhelmed the voices but that’s the sort of tweak that can be easily taken care of. The band itself, eight musicians strong, tucked in the pit under the stage, did a terrific job. Background players moved in and out of a variety of supporting roles, changing hats and personalities as needed.

Blood Brothers, to quote director Phil Dowling, “…achieves a delicate balance of gritty social satire and heartfelt emotion…”. In Dowling’s production the grit is leavened with humour, the emotion true. The opening night standing ovation, well deserved.

Performances of Blood Brothers continue at the Regent in Picton, Oct. 26 and 31, Nov. 1st and 2nd. Curtain at 8 p.m.

Pierson and Harris are Blood Brothers

Kevin-Pierson-25

Kevin Pierson is Mickey Johnstone. Tom Harris is Eddy Lyons.

 

 

 

 

Find out what happens when twins separated at birth – and from different ends of the social spectrum – fall in love with the same girl as the County’s Kevin Pierson and Tom Harris take on the lead roles in Blood Brothers.

blood-posterThe County Theatre Group opens its presentation of the musical ‘Blood Brothers’ Friday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. at Picton’s Regent Theatre and continues this and next weekend.

Blood Brothers, written by Willy Russell, is based loosely on the “The Corsican Brothers.” The story revolves around twins who were separated at birth. Their different backgrounds take them to opposite ends of the social spectrum, one becoming prosperous and the other unemployed and in prison. They both fall in love with the same girl, causing a tear in their friendship and leading ultimately to tragedy.

The County Theatre Group was founded in 1999 and has continued to grow and flourish since. Past productions include A Christmas Carol, Stringman, HMS Pinafore, The Dresser, Anything Goes, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance and many more.

Tickets: $30 regular $35 gold $25 student. Gala tickets available for opening night only (add $10). The gala begins at 6:45 featuring a red carpet welcome, a licensed meet and greet in the loft before the performance and a tour of the set after the show to see how a musical event of this size is staged.

Note: while Blood Brothers is a musical and will have you singing and dancing in the aisles, the production contains mature themes and content not suitable for younger children.

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Carol Rutledge, Mrs. Johnstone with Roanna Kitchen.

The Cast and Crew:
Kevin Pierson – Mickey Johnstone
Tom Harris- Eddy Lyons
Carol Rutledge – Mrs. Johnstone
Penny Kichen – Mrs. Lyons
Narrator – Tom Higginbottom
Don Watson – Mr. Lyons
Emelie Moffat – Linda

Cast – Gord Mitchell, Fred Lester,  Roanna Kitchen, Michael Christianson, Lois Russell, Michelin Cox, Roxanne Mckenzie

Director – Phil Dowling
Music Director – Adam Roy
Producer – Anne Ritchie
Stage manager – Colleen Johnson

 

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  1. Darlene says:

    Absolutely amazing! A must see…. I attended on Friday night and am going back with a group of friends this upcoming Saturday. Great performances, excellent music and terrific set. One of the County’s best……….

  2. W. Garry Smith says:

    This was a really great show well worth the money.

    There are two shows left, the theatre should be full for the remaining shows.

    Great acting, set, lighting and the sound is excellent.

    wgs

  3. Suzanne says:

    Fantastic show last night. Cast, crew and band were all excellent. Set is amazing. Get a ticket for tonight or next weekend if you can. It’s another County Theatre Group hit.

  4. Charlie says:

    Excellent!! A must watch production. We attended the sneak pre view/Dress rehearsal the 24 Oct.2013.
    Thank you to Chestnut Realty for the Invite.
    A Super Great performance by the crew and cast.

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