Lyn Paul bids farewell to Mrs J with final Blood Brothers tour

LYN Paul’s name is synonymous with the iconic stage role of Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, having played it for many years since 1997, and it all started with a chance letter.

The former New Seekers singer is aiming to say farewell to Willy Russell’s renowned show with a final tour – as soon as the coronavirus shutdown is over – but says it will be tough, as she resonates so well with the show’s matriarch.

Lyn Paul is thrilled to be returning to play Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers one last time

“Mrs J is just me,” says Lyn. “Everything that she’s going through I feel, the way Willy’s written it is so easy to get over to an audience, as it’s actually written as you would speak. It just flows.

“When I first played Mrs J, I was doing cabaret and he took me away from all that. I wrote to the producer Bill Kenwright and asked him if he would consider me for the role of Mrs J. He sent me a letter back by return post, and less than three weeks later I was waiting on the stage at the Phoenix Theatre in the West End to start rehearsals and I cannot tell you what it did to me.

“I’d never acted and I thought ‘Oh my god, I can’t do this!’ But Bill showed so much faith in me that I will always go back. He’s only got to click his fingers and I’ll be straight in, no problem.”

Lyn has returned to the role of a poor mother who gives up one of her twins to be brought up by a rich family after several stints in the past, including 1997 until 2000, a revival in 2008 and then again in 2012 for the final two weeks of its West End run.

And it was all down to that letter? “Oh yes, absolutely,” she says. “I didn’t know Bill, although I knew Carl Wayne, who was the Narrator at that point. He came to see me in a cabaret show I was in down the road from the Phoenix Theatre and he told me ‘You know, you should go and audition for Mrs Johnstone’.

“Typical northern mum! So I did, I wrote and just said ‘Would you consider seeing me for the role of Mrs J, I’m not Liverpudlian but I can get into the accent’, and I posted it off. Two days later I got a return letter saying ‘Don’t worry about the Liverpudlian accent love, we’ll sort that, you don’t need one, you’re a Northerner, and I’d love to see you’.

The show tells the story of the twins separated at birth, growing up in two different families and then falling for the same girl. It is scheduled for its farewell tour this year. Blood Brothers was due to be at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre next week but with all performances suspended, it will hopefully be rescheduled for later in the year.

Lyn hopes so, saying: “I am beyond thrilled to be returning to this iconic role. I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to undertake this ‘farewell tour’. It’s such a privilege to be able to play Mrs Johnstone one final time.”

For the full interview get the 26 March edition of the News & Mail

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