Cilla the Musical arrived up north in Manchester last night as a jam-packed evening of Cilla’s greatest hits telling the story of her extensive career as Liverpool’s most loved singer.
The production itself showcases the rising star’s career from the moment she stepped on stage to sing at the Cavern Club. She continues to sing with up and coming band The Beatles, sign with their manager Brian Epstein and shoot to the top of the charts before kick-starting her television career. It’s clear Cilla was a force to be reckoned with as she fought hard and dedicated her life to becoming the success she was.
With many details of her career covered throughout the musical, it was essential not to over complicate the set in order to keep the music and storyline a focus. The production has done this excellently with a large-scale set that transitions superbly and is enhanced by the tremendous lighting by Nick Richards who captures the dark underground of the Cavern Club and the bright lights of the London Palladium.
Taking on the demanding role of Cilla Black herself is Kara Lily Hayworth who encapsulates the star in every way. With impeccable characterisation that portrays Cilla flawlessly, Hayworth has a natural approach to the role. However, what really makes her so exceptional is her remarkable vocals that display Cilla’s unique tone. Hayworth blows the audience away with her powerful voice, a highlight being Cilla’s first number one hit Anyone Who Had A Heart.
Playing opposite as her kind-hearted husband Bobby is Carl Au who brings a sweet tenderness to the role as he cares for Cilla through the ups and downs of her career. Au’s characterisation is charming and the chemistry between Au and Hayworth is beautiful to watch which is highlighted in the second act during their moving duet of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.
Cilla’s manager Brian Epstein is portrayed charismatically by Andrew Lancel who has a troubled life yet takes a shining to Cilla and guides her through her career. Her protective parents Big Cilla and John White played by Pauline Fleming and Neil MacDonald bring an abundance of humour to the production with their brilliant comedy timing as a pair.
What really brings this production to life is the incredible music that creates a brilliant atmosphere in the auditorium. The band are outstanding and compliment the cast’s vocals well, interjections of the Beatles’ music is performed impressively by Bill Caple, Joshua Gannon, Michael Hawkins and Alex Harford.
Although there is a lot to cover in regards to Cilla’s music career, the production did start a little slow and could be tightened up to improve the pace, however the strength of the talent makes this production terrific. Cilla the Musical is bursting with Cilla’s stellar hits and is an interesting insight into her impressive career. Kara Lily Hayworth absolutely shines as the captivating star that is Cilla Black with her beguiling performance.
Cilla the Musical is on at the Manchester Palace Theatre until the 25th of November before continuing on tour across the UK.