REVIEW: Cilla - The Musical
Review
Posted on 11 Oct 2017

Surprise! Surprise! Cilla – The Musical makes its first trip to Birmingham this week after the production’s world premiere in Cilla’s hometown of Liverpool last month.

Despite its title, the show is more of a journey through the rise and rise of Cilla Black’s career peppered with her own, and others, chart hits of the era rather than stand out musical numbers. Not to say that there aren’t plenty of recognisable tunes that get the toes tapping of nostalgic audience members.

The fascinating tale of Ms Black’s life and career features dialogue lifted from BAFTA award-winning Jeff Pope’s screenplay for the ITV mini series starring Sheridan Smith; taking us from Cilla Black’s Liverpudlian beginnings of a pop career to the start of her very own TV show in 1968.

It’s very much a show of two halves; before the interval the pace is predictable with scenes mixed with a couple of songs, performed on an ever-moving stage, that leads us to Cilla’s eventual number one pop-hit. In the second half there is far more to enjoy as the drama builds and our star faces difficult decisions between her personal life and her career whilst the life of her manager, Brian Epstein, takes a dark turn.

There is one constant, however, and that’s the production’s leading lady, Kara Lily Hayworth. Not just an utterly convincing Cilla but also a captivating performer with knockout vocals. Her renditions of songs such as Anyone Who Had a Heart and You’re My World are goose-bump inducing.

As in real life, her Bobby, played by Carl Au, is just as reliable with a believable performance and some excellent vocals when we eventually get to hear them.

Whilst it takes until it’s second act to really get going, there’s much to enjoy in this show celebrating a true British icon, especially for those with fond memories of the swinging sixties.

★★★☆☆
Reviewed by Daisy Sparkle

Cilla - The Musical runs at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 14 October. Tickets are on sale now.

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