Cilla, The Musical – at Leeds Grand Theatre 

Depending on your age, you’ll either know Cilla Black primarily for her music or her TV shows, for You’re My World or ‘a lorra lorra laughs’. 

For me, it was the latter, growing up with Cilla in the 1990s hosting Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise. So it was a revelation really to watch Kara Lily Hayworth play Cilla the teenager, growing up in Liverpool with a phenomenal voice and her often rocky road to fame, against the backdrop of a truly great live band this week.

The audience was transported back to 1960s from the moment the curtain rose on Tuesday night with a soundtrack that they couldn’t fail to enjoy, even if 60s music isn’t your usual jam. We watched Cilla play with The Beatles as she struggled to be noticed at The Cavern Club, whilst working by day as a typist, and we listened to the dialogue of working class family coming to terms with a daughter destined for fame.  This was happening at the same time as musical legends and friends The Beatles, so it was truly the stuff of Hollywood, not Liverpool.   

Andrew Lancel as Brian Epstein. All photographs by Matt Martin.

Whilst Kara truly shines as Cillla, the two leading men, playing the roles of Cilla’s lifelong love and husband Bobby (Alexander Patmore), plus her manager Brian Epstein (Andrew Lancel) gave emotional performances that added depth and dimension. 

The plot has tragedies of life and death, played out against music from the likes of the Mamas and Papas, the Beatles and of course, Cilla’s powerful voice in songs like ‘Anyone who had a heart’ and ‘Step inside love’, which were, without doubt, the musical highlights of the show.

The Cast

With a truly entertaining storyline and performances from a cast combining familiar theatre and TV performers, it’s enough to make anyone of any age nostalgic for the 1960s.

Cilla continues at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton from 23 – 27 October.

The Hawth, Crawley from 6 – 10 November

Darlington Hippodrome from 20 – 24 November

Swan, High Wycombe 27 November – 1 December.

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