New Wimbledon Theatre, London – until 11 November 2017
I have to admit, unlike many, I didn’t grow up with Cilla Black. I knew a few of her hit songs but until an hour before seeing the show, had never seen an episode of Blind Dates so, despite having heard good things, I was a little dubious as to whether this would be the show for me. I’m pleased to report that my doubts were uncalled for as the show is spectacular.
This new production chronicles the Merseyside National Treasure’s rise to fame accompanied by the hits of not only Cilla herself, but the other bands of the time. This is a unique take on the jukebox formula which instantly won over the audience of older people reliving the hits they grew up with and the younger generations alike.
Whilst many jukebox musicals are an excuse to perform hit songs with little storytelling, Cilla has Jeff Pope’s stellar book to accompany it. This allows us to become invested in the show and performances rather than just waiting for the next song. With moments of drama, light and shade, there’s really something for everyone and the show provides an all rounded theatrical experience with a depth not often seen in jukebox musicals.
As the lead, Kara Lily Hayworth becomes the Liverpool lady and heart of the show in a faultless performance from start to finish. Expertly embodying Cilla’s iconic speaking voice as well as her vocally tough songs, Kara becomes Cilla and has the audience wrapped around her finger from start to finish. Her performance of the demanding role is certainly a memorable one and I can’t commend her more highly for her stunning portrayal.
The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein feature majorly in the show and give wonderful and iconic performances. The costumes, voices and mannerisms of each person are done to a T and you almost forget you’re watching a tribute to these artists and not them live in the flesh!
As Cilla’s devoted companion, Carl Au gives a charming performance throughout. His vocal performances are worth the wait when in act two he sings a delightful rendition of ‘A Taste of Honey’ and he is overall endearing and a joy to watch throughout.
The supporting cast are wonderful, especially Cilla’s parents who deliver some hilarious one-liners throughout. Mention must also be made of the set design by Gary McCann which is striking and seamless in moving us from the Merseyside Club to Abbey Road to the London Palladium just to name a few.
Cilla Black was a woman of the people’s hearts and a National Treasure who will always be remembered for her stunning voice, wit and charm. This musical does the perfect job of remembering her and chronicling her life in a glitzy and exciting but truthful way. Whether you’re a massive Cilla fan or not, this show will certainly provide fantastic viewing!