Salford is in for a treat as Willy Russell’s hit musical Blood Brothers is about to make a stop at The Lowry as part of its UK tour. The award-winning show tells the captivating tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences.
Playing the mother of the twins Mrs Johnstone is one of The Nolan sisters, Maureen. Best known for their hit song “I’m in the Mood for Dancing” The Nolans were hailed as one of the first girl bands, formed in the late seventies and comprising of sisters Anne, Denise, Maureen, Bernie, Linda, and eventually Coleen.
It’s been a hard year for The Nolans with the sad news of Bernie losing her fight with cancer in July aged just 53. Now her sister Maureen will take to the stage to perform for the first time since her death.
Manchester’s Finest caught up with Maureen to find out why Blood Brothers is so special to her and how she feels about this particular tour.
MF: What made you initially attracted to the part of Mrs Johnstone?
MN: Well, Blood Brothers one of my absolute all time favourites. The comedy, tragedy, and great songs are all part of why I love it. I saw the show 18 times before I was in it and 3 of my sisters played the part as well. Willy Russell’s writing draws you in and you can’t help begin to feel like you know the boys and learn to love them.
MF: Was it nerve-wracking going into the show after your sisters had already been doing the role?
MN: It was certainly nerve-wracking at the audition because I thought ‘could you imagine if I was the only one of the 4 who didn’t get the part’. It helped as well because I loved the show so much and I had seen them it in. My sisters were so supportive and I could tell them what I loved about Blood Brothers from an audience’s point of view and they could share their views as a cast member. I think playing Mrs Johnstone is always a pressure not just because my sisters played the part but because of all the fantastic women best online casino that have played the part -so you don’t want to let anyone down.
MF: The role is quick a pivotal one for a woman to play isn’t it?
MN: I think it is. I love the challenge and I’m so thankful to Bill Kenwright for giving me the chance to do it. A lot of the audience have seen the show before so you don’t want them to leave and think ‘I didn’t like it as much this time’. It’s always a challenge to convince people-as long as someone’s crying at the end I’m happy.
MF: You talk about the audience crying but you also shed real tears onstage too…
MN: I’ve been in the show since 2005 and I’ve cried every night without fail. I can’t play it any other way. I have to go to that dark place at the end. When I first did it it took an hour or more to get over it but now I’ve learned to snap out of it quicker, you have to or else you wouldn’t be able to do it.
MF: This tour you are returning with a familiar cast that you have played with before –what are they like?
MN: They are brilliant, Warwick Evans the narrator has played on Broadway and most of them have been performing in the West End. They are all just the nicest bunch of people. I know it sounds twee but we are like a family so, on top of being a fan of the show, it’s just a pleasure to be with all these people.
MF: With the recent sad news of your sister Bernie passing away, will it be even more poignant this time playing Mrs Johnstone, the role she once played?
MN: I played the last couple of tours whilst Bernie was ill and it’s been hard to be in the show. She’d been ill for a year although she was amazing struggling on. I don’t know what it’s going to be like this time till I get there-I really can’t say how I will react. I just know the cast are so supportive so I’m with the best people I could be with.
The Lowry, Lyric Theatre
Mon 2 – Sat 7 September