Growing Up

Blood Brothers Comes to High School

by Sherilyn Bogatz

Normally, when you go to see a high school musical, you don’t
expect intense drama or bloodshed. But that is exactly what you
should expect from Blood Brothers, which plays at Laguna
Blanca School through April 30. Blood Brothers, which
tells a dark fairy-tale story of twins separated at birth against
the grimy backdrop of 1960s Liverpool, is not just a departure for
the school. It is also a local premiere for this musical drama,
which has never been produced in the area. Blood Brothers
began as a play in the early 1980s and first reached large
audiences when its author, Willy Russell, reworked the story as a
musical. After a hit run in Liverpool, the play took London’s West
End by storm. In the last 20 years, this challenging piece has only
gained in stature, as it continues to attract sellout crowds to
both the West End and its touring production.

The play’s director, Peter McCorkle, fell in love with the show
when he saw it in London two years ago, and brought it back to
Santa Barbara as his spring 2006 choice for his Laguna Blanca
students. McCorkle is the reason that the school’s drama program is
known for its sophisticated and adventurous programming; but even
by his standards this show will be an edgy one. “The audience will
be beaten up and in tears by the time the show is over,” he told
me, and, having participated in the rehearsal process now for
several months, I can wholeheartedly agree with his estimation of
the play’s emotional impact. Even though McCorkle has asserted an
“if the audience doesn’t like it, tough” attitude, it is obvious
that he cares a lot about the show’s success and its 19 actors.

The cast has found Blood Brothers to be very different
from what it collectively refers to as the “happy fluffy bunny”
genre of high school musicals. Being part of such an intense drama
has been “difficult, because sometimes we have to convey emotions
that we haven’t actually experienced,” said chorus member Jackie
Kiefer. But it has also been “an opportunity for the actors who
would never make the choices their characters make to see the
consequences that arise as a result,” according to Felicia Palmer,
who plays Linda. The students have developed close friendships
while preparing Blood Brothers, and have taken part in “a
dramatic experience we have never had before,” according to Spencer
Klavan, who plays Edward. Due to mature content, parents are
advised that this show is not appropriate for younger children. To
the older kids in the cast and crew, this is great news and a sign
of artistic freedom that outshines even Grease. Kameron Tarlow, who
plays Mickey, predicts it will “blow Santa Barbara away.”

4•1•1 Blood Brothers runs from
Wednesday, April 26 to Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m., with a matinee
on Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m. Performance are at Laguna Blanca
School’s Hope Ranch Campus, at 4125 Paloma Drive. Tickets are
$10.

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