LYN Paul star of stage, screen and the pop charts talks to Globe theatre critic Peter Grant about her farewell tour of Blood Brothers.

Lyn Paul says it softly but with real feeling ... "I am Mrs J."

The one-time singer with The New Seekers from 1971 to 1974 and now a multi-talented actress is talking about Mrs Johnstone the mother of twins who are separated at birth and grow up on opposite side of life's tracks only to be reunited but with tragic consequences.

Willy Russell’s mega-award winning masterpiece is coming to the Liverpool Empire next month and it is going to be an outstanding home-coming of sorts for Lyn.

She tells the Wirral Globe: "I am from Manchester and yet Merseysiders have taken me to their hearts.

"‘Playing Liverpool is extra-special because Blood Brothers belongs there. It belongs to Liverpool.

‘"And as for being Mrs J – well, I have known some very hard times just like her." 

Lyn has played the character for 22 years on and off and two years ago at a sell-out 30th anniversary tour at Chester’s Storyhouse she told me she was hanging up her apron at 68.

But as they say in theatre land ... never say never.

Tell me it's not true, I asked her quoting the classic song she sings at the physically-draining end to each production.

Now at 70 she is back.

She will be getting all emotional again when she sings it – on her farewell tour.

The tear-jerker is her own favourite from the show which is packed with melodies and lyrics that she believes - like critics and audiences - are timeless.

"‘How can you ever tire of singing such wonderful songs?

‘"We have a lot of new cast members for this tour and I am enjoying getting back into character.

"I have new twins so it’s a transitional period time for all of us in rehearsals.

"For many, it's a baptism of fire – but what a show to be in for any actor especially with Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson’s direction."

That globally successful theatrical teamwork is one of the reasons that brought her back one last time in the role played by such stars as Barbara Dickson, Helen Reddy and Kiki Dee with Carole King putting on the pinny in the 1994 American version.

Lyn didn't think twice when that ever-persuasive producer Mr Kenwright asked her to do one more tour.

Lyn and Bill go back a long way and they have total respect for each other.

The singer and actress who has appeared in Emmerdale has nothing but praise for Bill in having faith in her abilities and giving her the big break after she had written to him two decades ago.

And shrewd Mr K Bill knows that Lyn can be relied upon to raise the emotional bar with all audiences guaranteeing standing ovations.

When she cries at the heart-tugging finale Lyn really does sob for real.

"I am the mother of a thirty-year-old son so, of course, I feel maternal.

"When I look at the twins and what becomes of them over the duration of the play - how can you not shed a tear?

"Oh yes, I know I will cry again at Liverpool - just like the first time and now on my swan song for the last time." 

On her 50th birthday she was playing Mrs J at London's Phoenix Theatre and the cast gave her the original silver locket – a core prop in the play's story.

"I treasure that - always will," she says with a smile.

So is there any souvenir she would like as a keepsake when she plays the Empire from September 3-14?

"I will certainly take a poster with me - yes, that is something to remind me of the wonderful audiences and the city of Liverpool where I now have so many great friends.

"But, then again, how can I ever forget the Liverpool Empire?

"When I first went to see the show I knew then I had to be in it. I said to Bill that I will end up playing Mrs J with a zimmer frame.

"Bill didn't disagree. In my heart I said I would do it as long as he wanted me to.

"So here I am again and I couldn’t be happier – Bill and this musical changed my life.

"I had never acted before and he has been a major inspiration for me.

"And I am amazed at the incredible talent of Willy Russell.

"Like I said, I am Mrs J ... Blood Brothers will always be a very big part of my life just has it has been for so many people across the world and for those yet to see it." 

Willy Russell's Blood Brothers is at Liverpool Empire from September 3-14.

Tickets from 0844871 3017.