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Linzi Hateley reprises her role as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers 2019 tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BILL Kenwright’s production of the international smash hit musical, Blood Brothers, has announced its 2019 Spring tour, opening on Tuesday, January 29 at Malvern Festival Theatre.

Written by Willy Russell, this iconic musical has been visiting theatres across the country throughout 2018, performing to sell-out houses and receiving standing ovations.

Olivier Award nominated British actress Linzi Hateley returns to the seminal role of Mrs Johnstone. She said: “Mrs Johnstone is an iconic role that I’ve always secretly dreamed of playing. I’m thrilled to perform it to audiences right across our country.”

Linzi Hateley has performed in countless West End productions, most recently playing the role of Donna in Mamma Mia!. At just seventeen years old, she was cast as the title role in the Royal Shakespeare’s production of Carrie: The Musical, a role that would take her to Broadway. She went on to star as The Narrator in the London Palladium production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, alongside Jason Donovan as Joseph, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award.

Her other West End roles include Éponine in Les Misérables, Roxie Hart in Chicago, Rizzo in Grease and Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins. She also starred as Helen in the National Theatre’s revival of London Road.

The cast for Blood Brothers also includes Sarah Jane Buckley, Sean Jones, Mark Hutchinson, Robbie Scotcher, Danielle Corlass, Tim Churchill, Graham Martin, Amy Jane Ollies, Alison Crawford, Graeme Kinniburgh, Andy Owens and Josh Capper.

This epic tale of Liverpool life started as a play and was performed at a Liverpool comprehensive school in 1981 before opening at the Liverpool Playhouse 35 years ago in 1983. It also completed sell out seasons in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. Blood Brothers also ran in London’s West End for 24 years, exceeding 10,000 performances, one of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone.

Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving story of twin boys separated at birth, only to be reunited by a twist of fate and a mother’s haunting secret. The memorable score includes A Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True.

When Mrs Johnstone, a young mother, is deserted by her husband and left to her own devices to provide for seven hungry children she takes a job as a housekeeper in order to make ends meet. It is not long before her brittle world crashes around her when she discovers herself to be pregnant yet again – this time with twins! In a moment of weakness and desperation, she enters a secret pact with her employer which leads inexorably to the show’s shattering climax.

Willy Russell is undeniably one of this country’s leading contemporary dramatists. His countless credits include Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine. Educating Rita, originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, enjoyed a two year run in the West End and was made into a movie starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters. Shirley Valentine also made the move from stage to screen in an enormously popular film starring Pauline Collins and Tom Conti.

Directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, Blood Brothers is designed by Andy Walmsley, with musical direction by Tim Whiting, sound by Dan Samson and lighting by Nick Richings.

Following the Malvern Festival Theatre dates (January 29 – February 2), Blood Brothers will tour to Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield (February 5 – 9), Theatre Royal, Nottingham (February 12 – 16), Wycombe Swan (February 19 – 23), Bournemouth Pavilion (February 26 – March 2), Forum Theatre, Billingham (March 12 – 16), INEC, Killarney (March 19 – 23), Royal Theatre, Castlebar (March 26 – 30), Princess Theatre, Torquay (April 2 – 6), The Lowry, Salford (April 9 – 13), Venue Cymru, Llandudno (April 15 – 20), Blackpool Opera House (April 23 – 27), Kings Theatre, Southsea (April 30 – May 4) and Leeds Grand Theatre (May 17 – 18).