Blood Brothers
by The Highland Players

Maya Miesner, Kevin Koppman-Gue, and Ian LewisShe used to go dancing. But that was many years ago when she was young and single and childless. After seven children and now barely scraping by as a single mother, Mrs. Johnstone is weary and overwhelmed. So the news that her ex-husband has left her with twins in her womb leaves her wondering how on earth she is going to make things work on the salary she gets as a maid for the Lyons family. The young, well-off, but barren Mrs. Lyons has an idea. Mr. Lyons is out of the country and won’t be back until after the twins are born. Mrs. Johnstone keeps one of the twins, Mrs. Lyons gets the other. Mrs. Johnstone only has to raise one more baby, and Mrs. Lyons finally gets a child. Everyone benefits. No one else ever need know. What harm could it cause?

Of course, as we learn in the opening moments, it will cause a lot of harm. Just how it does so is the story that is presented in this excellent production by Highland Players at Helix High School in La Mesa, California directed by Gregg Osborn. The story is told by the characters and an ominous Narrator, with Jakob McWhinney making it clear that the events he unfolds will have dark consequences, sometimes appearing in the story as an innocuous but omniscient milkman or bus driver, making Mrs. Johnstone feel uncomfortable as he haunts the edge of her consciousness.

Kayla Lauzier stars as the weary and superstitious Mrs. Johnstone who, despite the near-constant hardship of her life, loves her children – even when they are being raised by someone else. Her tenderness, weariness, and fears are movingly portrayed. Playing on those fears, including Mrs. Johnstone’s superstitious nature, is Hope Phipps as Mrs. Lyons. Hope slowly and very effectively transforms from the young, in-control woman who knows what she wants, to the woman teetering on the edge of sanity as the one thing she wanted becomes an obsession that she clings to – the fear of her secret being found out adding all the more to her desperation.

Also doing some nice transformations are the children who grow up in front of our eyes through body language, voice, and maturity. Kevin Koppman-Gue is Mickey, the twin that Mrs. Johnstone keeps. Mickey’s relatively difficult life in a poor family with troubled siblings leads him to a life full of self-doubt and mistakes, and the once easygoing, happy boy becomes a man full of bitterness and regret. As opposed to Ian Lewis as Eddy, the rich boy who becomes immediate best friends with young Mickey as they seem to hit it off despite their different upbringing. Eddy always has a willingness to give and share, and his life makes it naturally easier for him to do so and be a more gentle and content man as he grows older. Maya Miesner plays Linda, the little girl with an affection for Mickey who becomes best friends with both, but whose relationship becomes complicated in adulthood as her affection for the bitter and angry Mickey and the tenderness and understanding she gets from Eddy makes her choices more difficult.

Andrew Arguilez delivers some lightness as the relaxed Mr. Lyons. The ensemble combine for the lively Kids Game and Bright New Day. They do it all in front of the set by Amy Reams whose focal point is a grouping of picture frames that hang where the wall of family photos would be – a montage that evokes the clash of fractured and smashed-together families from which Blood Brothers is born.

Performs May 1 - 10, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Mrs. Johnstone: Kayla Lauzier
Mickey Johnstone: Kevin Koppman-Gue
Edward Lyons: Ian Lewis
Narrator: Jakob McWhinney
Linda: Maya Miesner
Mrs. Lyons: Hope Phipps
Mr. Lyons: Andrew Arguilez
Sammy: Evan Stromer
Marc Caro
Amanda Chase
Taylor Chertkov
Gabriel Garcia
Hannah Hedgecock
Daniel Mena
Hannah Hedgecock
Daniel Mena
Taylor Morgan
Mallory Orr
Austin Potts
Shamera Roman
Carly Russell
Jamie Trevino
Stephanie Wilborn
Meg Zabriskie

Director: Gregg Osborn
Musical Direction: Marty Morgan
Scenic Design: Amy Reams
Technical Direction: Paul Reams
Costume Design: Chloe Liddell
Stage Manager: Jamilah Barajas


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