Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 23, 2012

Blood Brothers

Majestic Theater, West Springfield
through October 28, 2012
by Shera Cohen

Reprising the Majestic Theater’s hugely successful production of “Blood Brothers” in 1998 was undoubtedly a task that faced many pros and cons for the director and actors. The end result is not without its own pros and cons, yet stressing the “pros.”

A soothsaying narrator tells the audience the saga of a poor but ever-pregnant mom living in Liverpool in the 1950s. The focal point is the separation of her twins at birth – one of whom is given to her affluent yet barren employer. While growing up, seemingly worlds apart, Mickey and Edward unwittingly become best buddies. The boys pledge their oath of friendship becoming Blood Brothers. Through fateful circumstances, frequently crediting the Devil and superstition, the boys’ troubled lives continue to be thrust together.

Some light moments brighten this otherwise dark play. Produced infrequently in this country (kudos to the Majestic for mounting “Brothers”), this musical continues to be a hit for 18 years in London.

The three lead actors have stepped into their roles seamlessly, with the age factor (yes, they are 14-years older) nil. In spite of the men portraying boys at age 7, Doug Major and Ben Ashley are extremely effective. The audience does not hesitate for a moment to believe each. Their bond as brothers is sincere and sweet, rough ‘n tumble. Christine Greene (their mother) continues to prove that she is one of the best sopranos in the Pioneer Valley. She infuses her solos with sadness and bravado. We believe her angst. One newcomer is Beau Allen, whose narrator is much too sinister with a voice that doesn’t quite fit the range called for. Another newcomer is Tyler Morrill (Mickey’s brother) who mixes his character with boyish spunk and hardcore reality. Here is a young actor to watch. All actors maintain British accents – not a small feat.

Actors Doug Major (left) and Ben Ashley

Slow at its opening, the pace only goes up a notch throughout the bulk of the play until a speedy end. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not. The big question which only applies to those who had already seen “Brothers” is: where is the beginning? Choice was made to cut out a visually important scene which sets the movement and the mood.

Mitch Chakour leads his band in soft jazzy pieces accompanied by eerie percussion. Greg Trochlil’s set parallels the boys’ lives, simply and effectively.