Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Slow Burn Theatre: Blood Brothers (reviews)

Slow Burn Theatre Company opened its production of Blood Brothers on April 29, 2011.
Written by Willy Russell, Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with tragic consequences. The incredible score includes "Bright New Day," "Marilyn Monroe" and the emotionally charged hit "Tell Me It’s Not True." Few musicals have received quite such acclaim as this multi-award-winning show, which having opened in London in 1988 to tremendous acclaim, continues to enjoy standing ovations at almost every performance. In addition to the
West End, Blood Brothers enjoyed success on Broadway, where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Liza Kerstin Braun, Rick Peña, Sabrina Gore, Lindsey Forgey, Manny Schvartzman, and Mattew Korinko.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
As with their earlier efforts, Blood Brothers is decently cast with good singers, its lower-class/upper-class world efficiently created by set designer Ian T. Almeida, sound designer Traci Almeida, lighting designer Lance Blank and costume designer Rick Peña, who also plays the upper-class twin Edward. Musical director Manny Schvartzman and his fellow musicians provide an alternately rousing, plaintive rendition of Russell’s score...
As Mrs. Johnstone, the working-class mum who pops out seven kids (including the twins) by the age of 25 (!), Lisa Kerstin Braun has the voice for her leading-lady numbers. Still, she’s a bit young to play the betrayed Mrs. J.... As the baby-craving Mrs. Lyons, Sabrina Gore bothers with a British accent just sporadically, but she has the acting chops to play a persuasive villain and smothering mother.
The adult actors (including Lindsey Forgey as Linda, the neighborhood girl both brothers adore) have to play kid versions of their characters in the show’s early scenes, and they do so in a ludicrously exaggerated way. Peña comes off as a giggling twit, Edelstein as a disturbed child, and neither acts like any vaguely recognizable boy currently walking the earth.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Braodway:
This production of Blood Brothers features a live band admirably led by music director Manny Schvartzman... Slow Burn uniformly has very clean set, lighting and sound design and execution.
Lisa Kerstin Braun turns in a fine performance as Mrs Johnstone. She is
a bit better at maintaining her accent in song than in dialogue, but is
always invested in her character...
Sabrina Gore is at first a bit stilted as Mrs. Lyons, though she manages to redirect her focus to beautifully portray the brittle, emotionally fragile nature of her character. Her brief breakdown in the second act, however illogical, is still believable. Matthew Korinko is polished as the Narrator...
Lindsey Forgey (Linda) is always present—her animated expressions and attention to the changing physicality of her character at varying ages are a pleasure to watch. Rick Pena (Edward) lingers a little too long in his performance as an exaggerated child rather than a young man... Jason Edelstein shines as the troubled Mickey.
The closing scene of the show brings the ensemble together in an ending that is heart wrenchingly acted and achingly sung. Despite the dark nature of the script and the overuse of repetitive melodies, this is a moving production of an often overlooked show.
Slow Burn Theatre Company presents Blood Brothers at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through May 8, 2011.

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