Maureen Nolan returns to the role of Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers at the Crewe Lyceum
Maureen Nolan is a self-confessed stalker.
Not in a creepy, axe-murdering sense, but as the ultimate superfan of Willy Russell’s enduring Blood Brothers , which makes its first ever visit to the Crewe Lyceum next week.
The 59-year-old has made one of musical theatre’s most sought after roles her own as Mrs Johnstone, the Liverpudlian mother of unidentical twin boys separated shortly after birth who later, unwittingly, become best friends.
The moving tale of social class that examines nature vs nurture has won legions of staunchly loyal fans since it debuted in the early 1980s.
And there are few more dedicated to the show than Nolan.
“I’ve been in it for the past two years and have been playing the role since 2005. I love it, I can’t leave it. It’s my favourite musical,” she says.
“Willy Russell’s writing is amazing. Whoever you are and from whatever walk of life, it will touch a little part of your life. Even as cast members, it touches parts of our lives.
“[Playing Mrs Johnstone] has always been an ambition of mine. Three of my sisters have played the same role and we’re in the Guinness Book of World Records for siblings playing the same part in the West End.
“I’ve actually seen it 18 times – I am the official stalker! I just love it. My sisters were in it so I was absolutely going to see them, but I love to go with people who haven’t seen it before to see their reactions.
“Especially for guys who don’t want to go and see a musical, I say make this your first one. It’s more like a play with music. It’s the story that’s so important, though people do love the haunting music.
“The finale still grabs me and people who come say they still jumped and they cried.
“But it’s very funny and people can forget that actually it’s full of laughs, especially in the first half. I think that’s what makes it more poignant. You feel like you’ve grown up with the boys and that’s why it’s such amazing writing.”
And it’s the quality of the writing, she says, that keeps so many of the show’s cast members together. Indeed, co-star Sean Jones has played Mickey on and off for the past 15 years.
But despite the hundreds of shows now under her belt, Nolan says she does her utmost to keep her latest performance as fresh as her first.
“We really do enjoy going out each night and doing it,” she says.
“The alternative is doing something you don’t enjoy as much. My part, and that of Mickey and Eddie, they’re just such great parts for all concerned so it’s difficult to get away from them.
“I suppose you can get over familiar and I hope I don’t. When I used to go and watch it the cast were always so transfixing. I remember saying to Bernie ‘don’t ever short change the audience’.
“You don’t see anybody giving less than their all every night. I think we’d all be cross if we saw anybody doing that.”
And she insists she’s not itching to get out any time soon, though she wouldn’t mind giving reality TV a go, sisters Coleen ( Dancing On Ice 2009 , Celebrity Big Brother 2012 ) and Linda ( Celebrity Big Brother 2014 ) having already made their mark on that front.
Indeed, Linda was at the centre of an apparent and ongoing bitter row with eventual winner Jim Davidson in last month’s series on Channel 5.
Maureen says: “Both Linda and Colleen had a bit of a bad experience on Big Brother – Colleen with Julie Goodyear and of course Linda most recently with Jim Davidson. But both said they’d do it again in a heartbeat.
“Linda said she’d had a great laugh for most of the 24 hours, but I suppose they wanted the other stuff for the edited 46 minutes.
“I suppose I would do it if they wanted another Nolan. I wouldn’t do Dancing on Ice or The Jump or Splash – far too painful. But I think we’d all kill to do Strictly .”
Blood Brothers visits Crewe Lyceum from March 3-8. Tickets are £27, to book visit www.crewelyceum.co.uk or call the box office on 01270 368242.