Hopes that Britain could be left a better, fairer country after the Olympics received a further boost earlier this week when it was announced that after 24 years and over 10,000 performances on the West End, Willy Russell’s ‘Blood Brothers’ will finally be closing on October 27. A spokesperson for producer Bill Kenwright has darkly muttered that this is ‘by no means the end of “Blood Brothers”’, but presumably the termination of its run at the Phoenix means we can finally say goodbye to our only real beef with Russell’s mawkish smash, namely its mind-bogglingly dated original score, which has somehow survived unchanged since the era of Jive Bunny.
What does the loss of this theatrical institution – the third longest-running West End musical ever behind ‘Les Mis’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ – mean for London? For one, it may well mean Kenwright has decided to knuckle down and do up the Phoenix Theatre, which has been looking its 81 years of late. Second, the busloads of school kids that comprise ‘Blood Brothers’s bread and butter audience will have to be shipped elsewhere (we’d suggest the undyingly brilliant ‘Matilda’, though it may set parents back a bob or two more). Thirdly, though, with the likes of ‘Chicago’, ‘Ghost’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ also on their way out, the West End is about to have its biggest overhaul in years. With big hitters ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘Viva Forever’ on the horizon it’s hardly the end of the musical, but just maybe the funk of tackiness that has descended upon the West End in the last decade or so may be about to abate a little. On the other hand, Andrew Lloyd Webber is threatening to bring back both ‘Cats’ and ‘Starlight Express’, so potentially we could be right back at square one before we know it. Andrzej Lukowski
For info, see the Blood Brothers listing.