Marti Pellow sings praises of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers

Marti Pellow in Blood Brothers. Photos by Keith Pattison
Marti Pellow in Blood Brothers. Photo by Keith Pattison

Actor and singer Marti Pellow doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Last year we saw him touring as Che Guevara in Evita and, just two days after the run finished with a stint in the West End, he was back rehearsing one of his favourite roles.

Pellow, lead singer with Wet Wet Wet and, in recent years, audience favourite in musical theatre, has returned as the sinister narrator in Willy Russell’s urban fable Blood Brothers.

The 49-year-old has built up an impressive CV, appearing in Chicago, Chess, The Witches Of Eastwick and Jekyll & Hyde among others.

Last year, as well as the Evita tour, he squeezed in a host of appearances at festivals with the band as well as recording a new album.

Blood Brothers, which also stars Maureen Nolan, is the moving story of two Liverpool scallies, separated at birth but brought tragically back together.

It’s a five-hanky weepie that never fails to leave audiences with a collective lump in their throats.

“Everyone should take lots of tissues, and some for me too,” said Marti. “It always makes me emotional and I’m in the show every night!”

Marti Pellow as the Narrator in Blood Brothers 2 - credit Keith Pattison

Marti is a huge fan of Russell and was delighted to be asked back.

He said: “I finished Evita on a Saturday night and started Blood Brothers on the Monday, that’s how much I wanted to get back in the show.

“It’s an amazing story. A lot has to do with Willy Russell’s writing. It’s a wonderful piece and Blood Brothers holds a special place in my heart.

“He also writes so beautifully for women. Maureen’s part, as Mrs Johnstone, is just superb. We get a tremendous response wherever we go. It’s a real favourite with audiences.

“My part of the Narrator is to observe and walk them through the show. Yes, he is quite a sinister character but visually, we go on a journey.

“The story, which is on the National Curriculum, is a timeless piece and is as true now as when it was written”.

Scot Marti, born Mark McLachlan, always aspired to be a musician despite his father urging him to “get a proper job” ship-building.

He added: “When I was in my early teens I remembered the strikes, the mass unemployment. I remember those grey skies very well.

“I grew up in an environment where my father knew a man, who knew another man, who could get me in the yards. He knew no-one in the music business.

“But it was a passion and obsession of mine. I was writing songs and was very serious about pursuing music as a career.

“Mickey, one of the two Brothers, also has aspirations but his are about getting a job and putting a roof over his family’s head while the other, Eddie, who went to public school, has wishes and dreams of becoming a councillor.

“I never saw my future in musical theatre until I was approached to do Chicago. They came to me and saw something in me that would be right for it.

“And you can hardly refuse Tim Rice when he asks you to do Chess. Later I was working with Leslie Bricusse and telling him how much I really wanted to do Scrooge – and I walked out with Jekyll & Hyde! Go figure!!

“I’ve been really lucky. Bill Kenwright, who is producing Blood Brothers, is a fan and he has offered me work that has been really exciting to do”.

On March 23 Marti reaches 50, something he is determined not to get depressed about.

“Other people seem to be getting excited by me reaching 500,” he joked. “I remember ribbing my father when he got to his half century. Now I’m almost there. There’s nothing to do but embrace it.

“It’s no real turning point for me. I would like to write my own musical but it would be a labour of love which could take months, if not years, to fine tune.

“Until then I’ll keep touring. If there’s a theatre that wants me then I’m happy to appear.”

2015 Tour Dates

Until Saturday, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
February 2-7, Eden Court, Inverness
February 16-21, The Town House, Hamilton
February 23-28, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
March 2-14, Palace Theatre, Manchester
March 16-21, Corn Exchange, King’s Lynn
March 23-28, White Rock Theatre, Hastings
March 30-April 4, Fairfield Halls, Croydon
April 7-11, Hall for Cornwall
April 13-18, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
April 20-25, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
April 27-May 2, Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl

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