‘Sister helps my Brothers’

Maureen Nolan
Maureen Nolan

Blood Brothers has long been Maureen Nolan’s favourite musical – and now she is starring in the show herself.

Laughing, the 59-year-old admits: “I actually saw Blood Brothers 19 times before I was even in it.

“I am officially the show’s resident stalker!”

It was watching sister Bernie, who died earlier this year at the age of 52 after a battle with breast cancer, play the role of Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers that made Maureen fall in love with the play and she later followed the family trend of performing in the production.

Maureen explains: “I remember seeing Bernie in Blood Brothers at Leed’s Grand Theatre.

“I recall that show for two reasons. The first was the embarrassment of my mobile phone going off in the middle of the show and it had a really loud annoying ringtone.

“But I also remember looking back at the audience and seeing them absolutely transfixed by the performance. There were grown men sobbing at the moving story.

“I always remember that every time I go on stage and I make sure I give every performance my all so I never shortchange anyone.”

Bernie began the family tradition of being in Blood Brothers in 1988 and sisters Denise, Linda and Maureen followed in her footsteps leading to them earning a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most siblings playing the same role at different times in a professional production.

Maureen, who has been performing in Blood Brothers since 2005 says: “I cry every single performance.

“I get myself so immersed in the role my emotions take over.”

Since Bernie’s death, Maureen admits every time she is on stage, her sister is on her mind.

She explains: “When I am in Blood Brothers, to capture the emotion, I have to go into a dark place and now Bernie is in my mind.

“I consider every performance a legacy to her and it is almost as if I am dedicating it to her every night.

“Bernie was my hero and was such a force and I miss her so much. I have not really accepted that she has gone.”

Performing in her hometown of Blackpool at the Opera House from Monday October 21 to Saturday 26 will be a special time for Maureen as she will be acting in the show she loves in the town she loves.

To anyone who hasn’t seen Blood Brothers, Maureen explains: “Even though it is a musical, it is Willy Russell’s amazing writing that makes the show so wonderful.

“The twin boys the story centres on are only seven at the start of the show and you feel you grow up with them and laugh and cry with them.

“The ending is so effective as by that time, you feel like you love these boys.

“I feel like I can relate to the play as we grew up on a council estate in Dublin which was very similar to the one in Liverpool in Blood Brothers and was very Johnston-esque and our family had seven children.

“Blood Brothers is the sort of musical that even people who don’t like musicals love and it appeals to men as well as women.

“I love it so much that I would be happy to be in it for the rest of my life.

“However, I am sure my hips won’t allow that!”