If you ask most people what musical made them love the genre, you’ll likely receive a definitive answer and a fondly recalled backstory.

For me, The Lion King was the show that opened my eyes to the wondrous world of musical theatre.

The spectacular performance at the Lyceum Theatre has stuck with me for many years.

But I have noticed a recurring theme with many people’s answers to that question – online and in-person.

Time and time again people rave about Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers and the tremendous impression it made on them.

So when it finally landed on the Mayflower Theatre stage, I knew I had to watch it.

Daily Echo: Blood Brothers has arrived in Norwich on its 2023 UK tour

Bubbling with anticipation, I had no idea what to expect.

Much like a first date I decided to go in blind and withhold any expectation (admittedly a risky strategy – for both scenarios).

But any expectations I did have were completely surpassed by this musical masterclass that packs a mighty punch.

A poignant tale of the class divide in Liverpool from the 1950s to 1980s, the hit musical shows audiences nature versus nurture.

The show is boisterous, funny, and earthy with an authentic working-class voice throughout.

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Blood Brothers follows twins Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Joe Sleight) raised on either side of the class divide after their mother Mrs Johnstone (Niki Colwell Evans) keeps only Mickey after birth.

The tragic ending is the opening scene to this powerful performance, but it still manages to pull on your heartstrings throughout, despite the inevitable outcome.

The paths of Mickey and Eddie cross more than once and they forge strong childhood bonds without knowing their connection to each other.

Daily Echo:

The first half spotlights the innocence of childhood and is brilliantly conveyed using physical theatre.

We first see Jones and Sleight as Mickey and Eddie, respectively, on stage aged seven.

Without needing to check the actors’ ages, it is pretty clear they are in fact, not children, but their mannerisms and exaggerated movements easily convince you otherwise.

I was reminded of my time studying Steven Berkoff during my Drama and Theatre Studies course and the importance of using your body to transport audiences – which Jones and Sleight did beautifully.

But in a musical full of childlike curiosity and wonder, Colwell Evans as Mrs Johnstone is the grounding force of the show, the injection of soul every musical needs.

She played the role with remarkable strength and grit and her singing was simply spectacular.

There were many moments during her performance you could hear a pin drop in the Mayflower.

Daily Echo: Colwell Evans as Mrs Johnstone Colwell Evans as Mrs Johnstone (Image: Mayflower Theatre)

During the interval, I was wracking my brain to figure out what it was that was missing from this masterpiece.

Then, the answer came with the group performance of ‘Miss Jones’ in the second act – it needs more ensemble numbers.

There are several fantastic individual voices showcased in this production, but the cast truly captivate audiences when they sing as one.

Unfortunately, these were rare moments in the show and when they did happen, they were over much too soon.

The musical itself was a slow burn to an extremely powerful ending with a standout performance of ‘Tell Me it’s Not True’ by Mrs Johnstone and the full cast.

The emotional cast was met with raucous applause and an immediate standing ovation following this number, the ultimate finale to a show that wore its political heart on its sleeve.

A must watch that will leave you reeling.