Sarah Jane Buckley ~ My Mrs J (Blood Brothers ‘Review’)

This isn’t a review as such, more of a collection of thoughts following another fantastic trip to see Blood Brothers. This time I made my ‘debut’ in the audience in De Montfort Hall, Leicester and I wasn’t there in my usual capacity as a reviewer. The opportunity to see Sarah Jane Buckley, (who usually has a breakdown on stage eight shows a week as the well to do Mrs Lyons) play Mrs Johnstone was too good to pass up and words can’t describe how excited I was to finally be able to see her in the role.

Had I been officially reviewing I would have given the show five stars, without a shadow of a doubt. Blood Brothers is one of my all-time favourite musicals and I still jump at the end of the show, every time! Of course, I cry too – great big fat tears because of the sorry ending which we are being led towards from the opening scene and because the music is so beautifully moving. Last night I was moved to tears because Sarah Jane was so spectacular as the leading lady.

Mrs Johnstone is the lynchpin in the story, there wouldn’t be a tale to tell without her, after all. The musical numbers that she sings are classics, from Tell Me It’s Not True to Easy Terms and every actress who’s taken on the coveted role has put their own stamp on the part.

Sarah Jane played the role with brashness yet gentility, she was straight-talking yet with an obvious heart of gold and she magnificently highlighted every nuance and trait which Mrs J encompasses. Not only was her characterisation remarkable in itself, but Sarah Jane’s vocal ability appears to know no bounds. I particularly noted how incredible her version of A Light Romance, was. I often feel that the song blends into the background as our attention is focused on Linda and Eddie, however I was drawn to Mrs Johnstone and the stunning rendition of the song being performed.

Tell Me It’s Not True is, of course the piece de resistance, and like all who have gone before her, Sarah Jane put her own stamp on that number and indeed, on the role itself. I never say no to a return visit to watch Blood Brothers, I’m always happy to run back for another amazing experience at the theatre. However, I will sprint to the theatre at top speed if Sarah Jane is playing the lead again. I have thoroughly enjoyed the performances from all the Mrs Johnstones that I have had the great pleasure of watching through the years – but I can safely say that Sarah Jane Buckley is MY Mrs J.

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