“Tell Me It’s Not True” – A Fond Farewell to Blood Brothers

Sadly Saturday November the 10th 2012 marked the end of Blood Brothers successful 24 Year run in London’s West End. The final performance at the Phoenix Theatre London marked the end of an era as one of the worlds longest running musicals came to a close.

Since it’s creation in 1981 Blood Brothers has been on a rollercoaster journey to success throughout the globe. Below is a timeline of all the major events in Blood Brothers history that have made the show the legend it is today.

Tell us your favourite Blood Brothers memories below!



But is this the end of Blood Brothers?

Rumours abound that Blood Brothers could return to the West End soon in a different venue. If you’d like to be the first to know if the show makes a triumphant return to London, sign up to our mailing list.

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  • Willy Russell originally wrote Blood Brothers as a school play and was first performed at Fazakerley Comprehensive School in Merseyside.


  •  Russell spent the entire year converting the show into a stage musical.


  •  Blood Brothers the Musical opened at the Liverpool Playhouse and then transferred to the West End’s Lyric Theatre in London on 11 April 1983. The show ran until 22nd October 1983 at the lyric.
  • Blood Brothers won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical and Barbara Dickson another Olivier Award for her performance as Mrs Johnstone
  • The cast recorded the original London Cast Recording of Blood Brothers


  •  Blood Brothers embarked on a year long national tour.


  •  Blood Brothers return to the West End and opened at the Albery Theatre (now the Novello Theatre) in July 1988 with former Eurovision Song Contest entrant, Clodagh Rodgers as Mrs Johnstone and Con O’Neill as Mickey. O’Neill went on to scoop the Laurence Olivier award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in Blood Brothers.
  •  Russell Crowe (!) was the first Actor to play Mickey in the Australian production of the show


  •  Stephanie Lawrence takes the role of Mrs Johnstone, which she plays for three years until moving to New York to fulfil the role on Broadway.


  • Blood Brothers opened at the Phoenix Theatre on 21st November 1988 which marked the beginning of it’s 21 year long residency.


  • Blood Brothers opened at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway to rave critic reviews. The Broadway production ran for 2 years and won the 1993 Tony Award for Best Musical


  • Bernie Nolan became the first of four Nolan sisters to play the role of Mrs. Johnstone.
  • Blood Brothers began a revival UK tour. Blood Brothers has since been regularly performed across the UK.
  • A new London Cast recording was released as was the International Cast Recording of Blood Brothers.


  •  Lyn Paul (also a former Eurovision contestant) takes on the role of Mrs Johnstone which she played until 2010. Lyn is widely considered to have been the best actress to portray the role and will reprise the character to close the show in London.


  •  Blood Brothers celebrated it’s 10th anniversary on the West End.


  • Veteran West End Actress and Blood Brothers star Stephanie Lawrence sadly passes away, but her legend lives on forever in the role of Mrs J.


  •  Antony Costa of Boy Band Blue joined the cast of Blood Brothers as Mickey


  •  Liverpool was awarded the title of ‘European Capital of Culture’ and Lyn Paul was invited to perform in a celebratory performance of Blood Brothers in the City.
  • Blood Brothers celebrated it’s 20th anniversary on the West End


  •  Former ‘Sporty Spice’ Melanie Chisolm joined the cast of Blood Brothers, thus marking her West End debut. Philip Stewart also joined the cast in the role of the Narrator


  •  Former Wet Wet Wet star Marti Pellow took over the role of The Narrator at the Phoenix Theatre and fulfilled the role in London until 28th April 2012. Marti then toured with the Blood Brothers UK tour.


  •  In April 2012 Philip Stewart returned to Blood Brothers as the Narrator. Other London 2012 cast members included Max Rice Oxley as Mickey, Paul Christopher as Eddie, Abigail Jaye as Mrs Lyons and (former Mrs Lyons) Vivienne Carlyle as Mrs Johnstone.
  • Blood Brothers announced it’s closure date of October 27th 2012
  • Blood Brothers extended for a further two weeks until November 10th 2012 for a final run of the show with a super cast of former Blood Brothers stars including Lyn Paul, Warwick Evans (original London cast member), Mark Hutchinson, Jan Graveson and Sean Jones. Together the cast bid farewell to the show they have known and loved for decades.

Have you seen the show? Do you think Blood Brothers has taken its final bow? Share your thoughts and memories with us.

What do you think?

21 thoughts on ““Tell Me It’s Not True” – A Fond Farewell to Blood Brothers

  1. ian says:

    Saw the original Kiki Dee cast 25 years ago and nothing has surpassed it since. Then went to see it in York last week. Fantastic – a great story and some classic musical songs. Have had the cd on for the last week! Taking my teenage daughters to Liverpool to see it “at home”. Special mention for Warwick Evans – does he play a baddie in panto every year – if not he should!!

  2. Nagaquista says:

    I beilive this was the worse show i have EVER seem

  3. Val says:

    Saw Blood Brothers in Llandudno Sept 2013 – Maureen Nolan as Mrs Johnson – it was fantastic – Maureen was superb- her singing is beyond compare – her acting also. walked out of the theatre at the end and would have turned straight round and walked back in to see it again if we could have done. If you haven’t seen it you must catch it before it ends forever.

  4. Deryck says:

    I saw the orginal with Barbara Dickson – oh gosh – that voice.
    Then again, about 10yrs later, with Kiki Dee (you don’t mention her here in your history) and then again, about 10yrs later, with Bernie Nolan.
    I thought Bernie’s to be the most fantastic portrayal. Her tears in the final song were genuine (hate it when actors screw their faces trying to cry). Had me teary from Easy Terms onwards !

    Shame you couldn’t keep the show going in the West End for its 25th year.

  5. Melissa says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Blood Brothers has ended their run. I was fortunate to be able to see it twice on different visits to London and it’s been a favorite of mine since then.

    I’d love to see the show reprise itself and make it’s way to the U.S. Well done, folks!

    1. PHIL HUGHES says:

      Melissa, the show was on Broadway, years ago starring Petula Clark with David and Shaun Cassidy.
      It has been all over the world, and is still touring in the UK and many other countries.

  6. Sam says:

    I’m actually so upset that its gone! I saw it on tour last year with the fantastic Nikki Evans!! And will be seeking it again in spring! Really wanted to see it in the West End, I really hope it comes back!! 🙂 You better come back haha!! <3 😀

  7. Sam says:

    This better be like the 5 year gap before then it came back!! Also this deserves to be a film like les mis!!!! 🙂 SO GOOD! I want my children to see this in the future please dont let it go 🙁

  8. PHIL HUGHES says:

    I saw Blood Brothers on the West End stage, dozens of times.
    The only reason being Lyn Paul, as Mrs Johnstone.
    This should have been recorded on cd, and it is a crying shame that the definitive Mrs J was not given the honour.
    At least Lyn Paul closed the show, after it`s 24 year run.
    No doubt it will return to London`s West End, one day, but without the wonderful Lyn.
    Her voice says it all…

  9. Ethel says:

    I would rather gouge my eyes out than watch this again.

  10. helen says:

    Ive just seen this play for the first time and found it fascinating well directed and fast moving with a sudden and sad end ,well done to all the cast .

  11. Bernd Arends says:

    After seeing BLOODBROTHERS about 23 years ago, I decided to become a professional actor / singer. I always dreamt of playing the part of Mickey. After working in the business for two decades I fullfilled another dream of mine. To open my own little theater. I always sticked to my dream to do a production of BLOODBROTHERS there. 6 weeks ago we opened our show and will be running til November this year. It’s a dream come true. And the audience loves the show. THANK YOU, BLOODBROTHERS

  12. bronwyn says:

    i LOVE this show. I have seen it 9 times and can’t believe it has closed. It is brlliant! I cry every time. bring it back

  13. Hannah says:

    An amazing show. I hope it returns to the west end.

  14. Lindsay Nurney says:

    Saw it for the first time, in the best place to watch it, Liverpool, with Bernie Nolan. Superb. My husband congratulated her in the pub next door after the show to which she replied in a wonderful Irish accent “oh, Thank you very much!!” My daughter studied it for her GCSE and says it is the best and most emotional show she has ever seen, and she’s seen a few!. Just watched it again today in Glasgow with Marti Pellow and Maureen Nolan but, although good , wasn’t quite the same as seeing it in Liverpool. George Henry Lee’s and Skelmersdale Lane aren’t known outside the area.

  15. Dave says:

    Saw Bloodbrothers on tour and in the West end with Bernie Nolan and always regarded it as one of the finest pieces of musical theatre there was. Sad that it closed as I’d love to have taken my son; just hoping for a revival one day.

  16. Joshua Stedman says:

    I saw it in February 2015 at Tonbridge TBH it was one of the best I’ve seen. this helped me really as I am playing Mickey Johnstone as part of my year 11 btec work.
    cant wait to perform.

  17. Mia says:

    I went to see Blood Brothers about 2 weeks ago, me and my mom LOVED IT. Some LOL moments and some very sad moments, the gun shots at the end made us jump! Maureen Nolan and all of the other cast members were amazing. Seen in Shrewsbury

  18. Puzzleduck says:

    I simply do not understand why people love this show so much. “Bread” had greater insight into the human condition, and better songs. The incongruous “just like Marilyn Monroe” refrain was repeated so often that I wanted to puncture my own eardrums rather than suffer it again. I couldn’t even leave because I was there with a school party. At least it was free.

  19. GW says:

    Please, please, please bring this back!!!! I have seen so many shows and none touch the heart as much as Blood Brothers!!! See it and tell me you’re not moved! I dare you!!

  20. Jon Lane says:

    This was the first London musical I ever went to and it inspired me to see lots more!

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