VIDEO: Regional Premiere of BLOOD BROTHERS at Venice Theatre

Venice Theatre will present the dramatic musical Blood Brothers opening Thursday, March 30, 2017 running through Sunday, April 23, 2017. This gripping story by British playwright Willy Russell (also known for Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine) concerns twin brothers who are separated at birth, with one raised in wealth and the other in poverty. They grow to be friends and then bitter enemies without ever knowing their blood connection. Russell wrote the book, music and lyrics, something Time Out praised in its review saying, "For years we have ... longed for a show in which words and music, characterization and songs are given equal weight ... Blood Brothers is such an event."

Check out a sneak peak video of the production below!

The title characters (played by Dennis Clark, courtesy of Actors' Equity Association, and popular area actor Brian Craft) are depicted from age seven through their teen years and into young adulthood. Allan Kollar, who is directing the show, promises Clark and Craft are up to this challenge. "Dennis and Brian are creating these wonderful, playful moments as the boys, cracking us all up during rehearsal, and then they go on to handle the dramatic scenes so powerfully."

Kollar feels a strong connection to the piece, going on to say, "I first saw this show on Broadway in the early '90s and was completely mesmerized. The way it explored the nature versus nurture debate, the amazing music, the humor and riveting story all came together in a way that made me know I had to do this show one day. I have been lucky enough to assemble an extremely talented cast that gets this style of storytelling - even though most weren't born when I first fell in love with the script. Goosebumps from the power of the music are a nightly occasion in rehearsals."

Kollar's "extremely talented cast" also includes Alana Opie who recently impressed area audiences with her turn as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, as the twins' birth mother, Mrs. Johnstone; Lisa Figueroa and Rik Robertson as Mrs. and Mr. Lyons, the wealthy couple who adopts Eddie; Amanda Heisey as Linda, the childhood friend and eventual love interest of both brothers; Patrick Tancey as Sammy, Mrs. Johnstone's eldest and troubled son; and Kelly Duyn as the narrator, a role typically played by a male. Kollar says the gender-blind casting adds a fresh dynamic to the production.

Before 1993 when theatregoers like Kollar could see Blood Brothers on Broadway, the show debuted in Liverpool in 1983 (where the story is set) then moved quickly to London's West End where it won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. After a short break, a 1988 revival ran on the West End for more than 24 years, finally closing in 2012.

This 24-year run helped Blood Brothers develop a cult following. In online audience reviews fans often comment about seeing the show multiple times and frequently use terms like "amazing," "brilliant," and "emotional" to describe their favorite show.

Many critics agree. The Wall Street Journal described the Broadway production as "A full-bodied musical, a wonderful melodrama that is also a thoroughly modern ballad opera." London Broadcasting called it "Deeply moving" and Theater Week claims, Blood Brothers remains a one-of-a-kind show ... and no musical theater fan should fail to experience it."

Craft, who makes his Venice Theatre debut as Mickey opposite Clark as Eddie, has joined the rank of fans saying, "It has been such a thrill working on the show. Alana is gut-wrenching and absolutely captivating to watch. I think it's really going to be a special show. It's so different than what everyone else is doing. There is a reason it is so huge in London. It has so much heart and passion."

Performances start at 8pm Tuesdays through Saturdays and at 2pm on Sundays. There will be no show on Easter Sunday, April 16. Adult tickets are $32. Student tickets are $15 to $17. Seating is general admission. All seats are on sale now at or by contacting the Box Office at (941) 488-1115. Blood Brothers is generously sponsored by Joan Lino Signature Sotheby's and Salon of Venice.

Venice Theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave.
Box Office hours are 10am to 5pm Monday through Friday and 10am to 1am on Saturday

Blood Brothers by Willy Russell


Director: Allan Kollar
Music Director: Michelle Kasanofsky
Co-Choreographers: Nethaneel Williams and Jasmine Deal
Stage Manager: Jasmine Deal
Scenic Designer: Tim Wisgerhof
Sound Designers: Dorian Boyd & Jaclyn Ledoux
Lighting Designer: John Andzulis
Costume Designer: Francine Smetts


Mrs. Johnstone: Alana Opie
Mickey: Brian Craft
Eddie: Dennis Clark
Mrs. Lyons: Lisa Figueroa
Narrator: Kelly Duyn
Mr. Lyons: Rik Robertson
Sammy: Patrick Tancey
Linda: Amanda Heisey
Ensemble: Willie Marte-Ramos, Dakota Murrell, Jacen Paponetti, Brian Finnerty, Julie Kulin

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