STAGE REVIEW: Blood Brothers - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Tuesday, January 29 to Saturday, February 2, 2019.

THE seasons regularly roll round… Winter comes and goes, and so too does spring and the others, all in much the same vein as Blood Brothers, one of the monster theatrical musical hits of recent decades and which seems to have been around for ages.

Once again it gets standing and rapturous ovations from its audiences night after night as the show wends its way on its latest tour around the country, and as usual the Malvern crowd obliged for the opening of the show’s week-long stint at the Festival which, unsurprisingly, is already another sell-out show.

It’s been just over two years since Brothers was last at Malvern and then Lyn Paul was in the starring role of Mrs Johnstone. Now it’s Linzi Hateley, who hails from just up the road in Birmingham and she and the whole show are just as captivating as ever.

She has a host of television and theatre credits to her name having worked in the West End, Broadway and with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and as a Brummie acting and singing with a Scouse accent she does a damn good job and was quite clearly at home in the role.

One of the longest running musicals in the West End and on tour, Willy Russell’s epic entertainment about life in Liverpool’s back-to-backs continues to hold a fatal fascination for its adoring audiences - many of whom are regulars.

Although they know exactly what is going to happen they react outwardly as if it is their first viewing.

The story is basically about good and evil, with a considerable psychological involvement, and although the main protagonists generally feel they are doing the right thing they know in their consciences that no matter however well intentioned a ‘debt’ is a debt and will have to eventually be paid…

Mrs Johnstone is the mother faced by an agonising decision as the mouths she has to feed outgrow her small income - and her husband has moved on to pastures new!

Then, as twins are set to arrive, an incredible offer is received setting off a chain of events over which two ‘mothers’ and ‘brothers’ have very little control.

Linzi Hateley adds her name to the distinguished list of actresses to enthral the paying customers with an excellent portrayal, as well as her delivery of several of the show’s songs such as Marilyn Monroe, Shoes Upon the Table and the incredibly iconic number, the always moving and mesmerising Tell Me It’s Not True.

Sean Jones, back with the show, is once again outstanding as the suffering Mickey, and there is fine support too from Mark Hutchinson as his ‘blood brother’ Eddie.

Danielle Corlass also delights on her return to the role of love-interest Linda and sprinkled throughout the rest of a first class cast is a number of other fine performances.

The whole show is held together by Robbie Scotcher’s outstanding narrator - quality delivery with just that perfect pitch of menace.

It’s clearly not a show to miss but with the only likely avenue to tickets being from any late returns it appears it will be necessary to phone in or call to the theatre as regularly as possible.

Get lucky and you won’t regret it.