Interview: Robbie Scotcher (Blood Brothers, Tour)
There are two things we know about The Narrator in Blood Brothers. The first is he knows everything. The second is, he has a Liverpudlian accent.
Actor, Robbie Scotcher, is portraying this allusive but famed character in the UK tour.
He first heard the beloved story of Blood Brothers listening to a tape that his friend had. His favourite part was the 'Summer Sequence'; "young, free and innocent, you haven't got a care."
It's the part of the show where our lead love triangle, Mickey, Eddie and Linda age up from 15 to 18 and meet one another for the first time.
Never did he think that he'd now be the one to deliver the cherished sequence to audiences across the UK.
"The show means the world to me. It’s a privilege to stand onstage and tell the story and one I don’t take for granted. I feel it’s a real shared experience between the audience and the cast.; and like my friends tape it’s something to be enjoyed and to share."
Blood Brothers is a timeless story of two brothers separated at birth at consequence of their mother's desperation making ends meet as a separated housekeeper. Later, the boys are reunited by a twist of fate and struggle to navigate life in Liverpool in the 1980s. The story is punctuated by show-stopping songs that soar right into your heart and nest there forevermore.
The Narrator doesn't communicate with characters, but instead knocks down the fourth wall in order to lead audiences through the tale providing commentary and asking thought-provoking questions.
"There's a million things I'd like to ask The Narrator," says Robbie, adding that if they were to ever meet he would "probably take him to Popworld for a dance followed by a chicken shop for the walk home. I think he needs to have a laugh."
He's probably right. Written by Willy Russell, the story is deeply moving and highlights the tragic consequence of hiding the truth.
The legendary tale started life as a play performed at a Liverpool comprehensive school in 1981 before opening at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983. Since, the show has received international success and racked up record breaking numbers on London's West End.
The universal questions surrounding "nature vs nurture" is ever prominent within the show; highlighting the divide in wealth and class, and how these lead to different lifestyles and opportunities. Now at 30 years old, these themes are still ever-present and The Narrator's role needed as much in society as it is on stage.
"Class, mental illness, wealth divide, poverty, and unemployment are all timeless. These themes are in the news every day all over the world." Observes Robbie. He quotes his line from 'Light Romance / Madman': 'There’s a man gone mad in the town tonight, he’s gonna shoot somebody down'
"We were due to open in Plymouth the day after that tragic event." Robbie says, in reference to the recent attack in the city. "We cancelled out of respect. You have footballers holding the government to account. It's a sign of the times. Class is ever present."
Values lay at the heart of Blood Brothers, and holds a mirror to the different types of relationships and dynamics that co-exist.
"I’m an adopted child. So in some way, [the show] represents my family." Robbie shares, "Mrs Johnston is a single mum trying to do the best for her kids and struggling to make ends meet whilst the Lyons’s struggling to get pregnant even with considerable wealth show that no family is perfect.
"These are two women who make a dreadful choice for the right reasons. There’s a lot of love in the show. And no matter what, our mums love us and we all love our mums."
Throughout the show, characters struggle not only financially, but with betrayal and heartbreak, addiction and dependency and with ill mental health.
"Secrets and lies can eat away at you and do in Blood Brothers to devastating effect." explains Robbie, referencing Mickey's drug addiction and how it damages his relationship. He says that the silence that follows Mickey and Linda's conversation where they realise their fate is "in some ways the loudest part of the show."
As The Narrator, Robbie is ever-present and is able to watch the audience night after night. "You feel everyone getting more invested and carried away," he says. "No two performances of Blood Brothers are the same."
The lead up to the finale, 'Tell Me It's Not True' ("The best finale to a show ever written.") concludes an epic ten minute build up. A musical theatre staple, the massive song swells with emotion. On the tour, it is performed by Lyn Paul as Mrs Johnstone, and she is "a force of nature," according to Robbie, and many favourable reviews. Lyn first took on the role in 1997 on tour before concluding the West End run in 2012. This is her final farewell to the adored character.
At a time where we are connecting with each other once more, Blood Brothers is a reminder of kindness and forgiving to those around you.
"It'll make you belly laugh and sob like a baby in one sitting."
Blood Brothers plays at Nottingham's Theatre Royal from Tues 14 Sept - Sat 18 Sept before continuing on tour.