Cilla The Musical follows the rise of Cilla Black; from her working class roots through to the contemporary music scene, all the way to national stardom. After being introduced to Brian Epstein by The Beatles, Cilla finds herself on the path to fame. The first act is slow, setting the mood with its jukebox soundtrack and authentic 60s costumes. However, the show later picks up the pace, with Cilla struggling to juggle her career and attempting to break America, all while trying to balance her relationship with her bumbling boyfriend Bobby Willis.
Kara Lily Hayworth brings the musical to life as the titular Liverpudlian. She captures the spirit of her character in both her acting and singing performances with a masterful performance of Cilla’s first number one hit ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ as a highlight.
The show is unapologetically feel-good, filled with iconic music which saturates the theatre with nostalgia. The director, Bill Kenwright, and much of the cast were born in Liverpool, adding to the passion behind the project. This is a celebration of both Cilla Black and 1960s music.
However, the 60s weren’t ‘swinging’ for everyone.Brian Epstein, the manager of both Cilla Black and The Beatles,is brilliantly played by Andrew Lancel. Epstein receives physical abuse for being a gay man in an era marred by homophobia. Lancel’s performance is heartbreaking, playing the tragedies of his character with great subtlety. Whilst this subplot is small it is incredibly impactful, providing some much needed grit in a show full of glitter.
Ultimately, Cilla the Musical succeeds in what it sets out to do – we are entertained by her story, told in style. At times it lacks depth, but the surface has enough classic songs and enjoyable performances to let you lose yourself in its world.