It is just a short stroll down the memory lane of the Swinging 60s but on the way you meet lots of the characters of the era- the Beatles, the troubled Brian Epstein, Gerry Marsden, Danny La Rue, George Martin, Burt Bacharach, the Mamas and the Papas, Cathy McGowan, Ed Sullivan and…our Cilla.
Cilla the Musical is a warm, cuddly, comfy journey with Cilla White as she leaves behind her typist’s job in Liverpool and her club hat check duties to transform into Cilla Black, darling of Scottie Road, mates with the Fab Four, and eventually, like Joanna Lumley and Judi Dench, becoming a National Treasure.
Cilla’s path to national stardom, thanks to the guiding hand of Epstein and the unrelenting love of her eventual husband, Bobby Willis, is skilfully told by Jeff Pope and features the songs of the age, especially the ones that catapulted Cilla from the Abbey Road Studios to the stage of the London Palladium and then into our living rooms via the television set.
There are few dark moments in Cilla the Musical, apart from fleeting references to Liverpool’s religious divide, Epstein’s injuries at the hands of rough lovers and Cilla’s momentary lapse in thinking she didn’t need the unconditional love of Bobby anymore.
Cilla is played here by Kara Lily Hayworth whose incredible voice carries the power of an Anthony Joshua left hook, and she nails the uncomplicated, wide open hearted, girl next door persona that was indeed Cilla and is why she will be forever part of Britain’s musical and showbiz heritage.
And producer and director Bill Kenwright has surrounded Kara with a top notch bunch of actors, singer and musicians.
It may be a short stroll into the 60s and the life and times of Cilla Black but, boy, is it worth the walk!
Words: Kevin Black Photo: Kara Lily Hayworth as Cilla Black.
Cilla The Musical is at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley , until November 17. Ring 01293 553636 for tickets