Blood Brothers is a 1982 musical, with book, lyrics, and music by Willy Russell.
The contemporary prince-and-pauper tale revolves around twins (Mickey and Eddie) born into an impoverished Liverpudlian family. Deserted by her husband, and unable to cope with her oversized brood of children, their mother (Mrs. Johnstone) gives one of the boys to the wife of her wealthy employer (Mr. and Mrs. Lyons). Years later, the brothers meet and become inseparable friends, but their relationship is doomed to end tragically.
Whether it is a child's inherent nature or the way he is nurtured that determines his fate is at the crux of the storyline.
Although the original production in London's West End, starring Barbara Dickson, was only a modest success, the revival currently at the Phoenix Theatre has been running for years, and has developed a cult following. The central role of Mrs. Johnstone has been played by, among others, Stephanie Lawrence, Kiki Dee, Lyn Paul, Helen Hobson, Barbara Dickson, Siobhan McCarthy, and four of the Nolan sisters (Linda, Bernie, Denise and Maureen). Ex-Blue member Antony Costa is also currently part of the London cast as of 10 April 2006, starring alongside Maureen Nolan as Mrs. Johnstone. A second UK production is currently on tour, starring Linda Nolan as Mrs. Johnstone.
Petula Clark gave the sluggish Broadway box office a much-needed boost when she joined the cast on August 16, 1993. She remained with the show until April 1994, then subsequently starred in the US touring company from September of that year until May 1995. She recorded the international cast album with her Broadway co-stars - real-life brothers David Cassidy and Shaun Cassidy - along with Willy Russell himself in the role of the Narrator. Clark's success as Mrs. Johnstone led to the role becoming a calling card for other faded pop singers, with Carole King and Helen Reddy following her in the role on Broadway.
The best known song from the score is the finale "Tell Me It's Not True," which has become a staple in the concert repertoires of Dickson, Clark and Reddy.
The musical was parodied by Forbidden Broadway as "Mug Brothers" on their third album, which included a parody of Clark's hit "Downtown" as "Down Show," comically commenting on the tragic aspects of the musical.
In addition to these songs, there are a number of reprisals of Shoes Upon The Table throughout the performance.