Blood Brothers

Stephen's first appearance as 'Mickey' in Blood Brothers was on the 1st May 1989. His role lasted for nine months and he left in January 1990. Out of all the shows I have seen, this undoubtedly has been the best ~ in terms of entertainment, quality of cast, energy and emotion, this show had it all. It was a very sad day when Stephen left the cast to move on to other projects.

Review

Stephen played the role of Mickey in Blood Brothers, one of twins who were seperated at birth. We first met Mickey as a seven year old boy and followed him through his life of fun times and troubled times until his moment of realising his best friend Eddie is, in fact, his twin brother.

Stephen played this role to perfection - his sheer, unadulterated joy at being a 7 year old in shorts and shooting his friends (though obviously he had his fingers crossed behind his back!) was a joy to behold. His monologue "I wish I was our Sammy..." was incredible, so envious was he of his big brother who was 'nearly 10'. He slid across the stage, galloped around and had the audience firmly in the palms of his grubby little hands!

As Mickey grows up, we see the

 relationship between him and Eddie develop - and so Stephen became a teenager, showing the angst of not being as good as his friend - not so well educated, not so wealthy and not so well turned-out. He and Eddie fall for the same girl, Linda, but it is Mickey who wins her and it seems like his life will turn out okay, until he gets involved with his brothers schemes and ends up in prison. He turns to drugs to help him cope and becomes dependant upon them - and here is where Stephen really excelled. The way he portrayed Mickey at this stage of his life still remains with me now - the feelings of despair and hopelessness, of letting everyone down and of not being good enough.

We then move on to the final stage of his life - the confrontation between Mickey and Eddie when he realises his wife has been seeing Eddie behind his back. As he goes to find Eddie and the police are involved his Mother steps in - and reveals that they are twin brothers seperated at birth. His final, heart-wrenching words are "I could have been him" and as he waves the gun around towards Eddie the police burst on to the scene and both men are shot dead.

To play a character like Mickey - and go from being a 7 year old boy to a grown man with severe depression in the space of a couple of hours - requires an incredible energy and ability. Stephen is an amazing actor and this show really demonstrated his versatility - this is the only show I can remember that sold 'standing' tickets for performances and many a time I stood at the rear of the stalls and watched the usherettes literally dancing in the aisles in the first act, then standing crying by the end ~ and these people saw it every day!

The Albery Theatre

Summer of 89

Stephen McGann

Blood Brothers

Albery Theatre, London, May 89

Cast

Angela Richards.........................................Mrs Johnstone

Mark Jefferis......................................................Narrator

Stephen McGann.......................................................Mickey

Robin Hart....................................................................Eddie

Phil Hearne..................................................................Sammy

Elizabeth Morton.........................................................Linda

Helen Hobson.......................................................Mrs Lyons

John Conroy...........................................................Mr Lyons

Ian Burns...............................................Policeman/Teacher

Dee Robillard.............................Donna Marie/miss Jones

Scott Farrell..............................................................Perkins

 

Synopsis

Blood Brothers tells the story of Mrs Johnstone, a Liverpudlian mother of seven, whose husband walks out on her when he finds out she is expecting once again. When she finds out it is twins she is distraught, knowing she can't afford to keep them. However her employer, the childless Mrs Lyons, steps in and offers to take one of the babies. Mickey and Eddie are raised within streets of each other, firm friends yet unaware of their relationship. As they grow up they fall in love with the same girl. Mickey marries her, becomes involved in crime and turns to tranquilisers. Eddie on the other hand prospers and after leaving University becomes a councillor. The play ends in tragedy when Mrs Johnstone reveals the truth to the boys - and fulfils the prophecy told to her by Mrs Lyons all those years ago, that "if either one learns he was once one of a pair, they shall both immediately die - you won't tell anyone about this Mrs Johnstone, because if you do, you will kill them".

A chat with Stephen - October 14th 1989

A group of tickets had been booked for this date in order that members of the fan club could attend together, and Stephen had arranged a room in the theatre in which everyone could meet up for an hour before the show to chat and ask questions.

This sort of event was typical of Stephen - he offered to get items signed by members of the cast and to collect items for his brothers to autograph and promised to return them.

He talked about his family and what his brothers were doing as well as discussing the filming of Streetwise which had recently finished. He said he welcomed fans coming to see him and if they wrote to him in advance he would try and make sure he had time for a chat with them.

He went on to say that Blood Brothers was one of the nicest shows he had worked on. He chatted about other actors he had worked with - most recently from 'Streetwise' and 'Up On The Roof' - and what they were currently working on.

He spent time making sure everyone asked what they wanted to and that no-one left without an autograph and photograph.

This was a memorable day for the fans, but sadly the last time an event such as this happened due to the brother's increasing work load. However, the McGanns have always had time for their fans and will always be willing to sign autographs and have photos taken at appropriate times.

 

I personally don't believe there are many actors capable of playing this role - I have seen this show many times, but not seen anyone to compare with Stephen. I saw the show on Stephen's second performance (2nd May 1989) and wrote to a friend "the first half is really funny, but the second half is very sad - I've never cried so much. At the end of the show the cast got called back onstage four times" And eighteen years on, the memory of this show still makes me very emotional.

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