CILLA, the musical has all the tools of the trade to be a West End hit! From the sound, lighting, the inspired set and wonderful cast, this show has the makings of success running through it. And, let’s not forget the starlet of the show, 29yr old Kara Lily Hayworth who totally committed to the role of Cilla and gave her absolute all to perform hits from Step Inside Love, to Alfie and, audience favourite, Anyone Who Had a Heart.
The musical depicts the timeline of Ms Black’s rise to fame, from her humble beginnings at Liverpool’s Scottie Road to the bright lights of the London Palladium, Broadway and ultimately her own BBC chat show.
With 18 classic Cilla songs, 24 costume changes and 3 wigs the musical launched this year in Cilla’s home town of Liverpool and, the powerhouse who headlines the show, Kara Lily Hayworth, enthuses “Liverpool Empire was incredible; I knew they would love the show but the response was simply amazing. At the end of the first set, I performed ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and the audience gave a standing ovation for 5 minutes. I was unsure that they would accept me and get behind me but each and every one of the audience stood up and it was amazing.”
I saw the touring production at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre and was overwhelmed by the talent of the cast, from timeless tracks performed by ‘The Big Three’ to ‘The Beatles’ and ‘Mamas and Papas’. But, once again, it was Cilla who stole our hearts and the show as the powerhouse lead has a voice that resonates from the stage to the rafters. Musical theatre performer and actress Kara knew she had big shoes to fill by emulating household favourite Cilla but also by following in the success of Sheridan Smith’s TV role of the icon “Naturally, I felt pressure, as the stage show is written by the brilliant Jeff Pope who wrote the amazing script for Sheridan, so I had two incredible role models to follow” adds Kara.
The musical is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield who auditioned Kara amongst thousands of young hopefuls and Kara explains “I queued for hours and performed a 60’s number – Carole King’s Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow at my audition. A selection of us then went on to audition at The Cavern, which was nuts. It turned out to be great fun as some of the cast got up on stage and we all performed Beatles numbers together”.
The show runs at The Mayflower until Saturday 7th October and then tours seven more venues this year. Next year, the musical continues into April and more dates are being added. Ironically on the 27th May 2018 Cilla would have been 75 years old so I imagine (and hope) that the producers are planning a special gala performance. Kara also marks her 30th birthday in February, whilst on tour, which she is very excited about.
From curtain up, to the final bow, Cilla the Musical conveys the audience on a magical mystery tour of 60’s wonderment to present day fulfilment and leaves you in awe of the incredible natural talent of Ms Cilla Black. This former Cavern Club cloakroom attendant entertained the nation for so many years and has truly gone too soon. The penultimate song in the musical is so fitting – “It’s For You”.
Tickets for the show can be found at https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/cilla-2017/