Theatre Review: Cilla The Musical

Cilla The Musical will make you nostalgic for the music scene of the 1960's, even if you never experienced it first hand.

cilla the musical

Anyone who had a heart will be blown away by the spectacular production of Cilla The Musical currently showing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

The stunning and heart-warming musical tells the story of Cilla Black, from the beginning of her showbiz career as a teenager living on Scotty Road in Liverpool right up to her leap into TV business.

The soundtrack is a real tribute to the Mersey Sound era and captures a time when it was at its finest, transporting the audience to 1960s Liverpool. This was a time when you could pop into the now infamous Cavern Club after work and catch a Beatles gig.


cilla the musical
Cilla performing in ‘The Cavern’ with ‘The Big Three’

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The musical score is the ultimate soundtrack to the swinging ’60s, it includes all of Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had A Heart, Alfie, and Something Tells Me which are all performed impeccably by Kara Lily Hayworth.

Hayworth’s interpretation of Cilla is astonishingly accurate. She sings and acts with such resemblance, it’s a really marvellous surprise surprise and a true celebration of Black’s life and legacy.

The musical, which is an adaptation of the critically acclaimed ITV television series, was written by Jeff Pope and produced by Cilla’s son Robert Willis.

Willis spoke of how Cilla knew that there were plans to turn the TV series into a stage show and was excited and really supportive. He said, “She would have loved to go to the opening, she’d have been really involved with it and would have been really proud.”

The show also explores the sacrifices made by Cilla’s partner Bobby Willis in being Cilla’s manager. It goes further than the TV series and shows he had promise as a singer.

There is a compelling sub-narrative that explores the life of Brian Epstein, the manager of Cilla and The Beatles. Epstein, who was gay, struggled with acceptance and was often targeted by men who would con him.

Epstein is played beautifully by Andrew Lancel and his portrayal really demonstrates the depths of homophobia experienced at a time when it was illegal to be gay. He sang The Beatles hit, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, in what was a very moving and heartbreaking performance. It has been suggested that John Lennon wrote the piece about Epstein, who had to hide his homosexuality from the public.

The show is jam-packed with 29 wonderful musical performances and ends where Cilla’s glitzy TV career began. The Mersey medley is broadened to include the likes of Mamas and Papas hit song California Dreamin‘ to reflect Cilla’s attempt to break the US. It was, however, the rendition of Twist and Shout by The Beatles which propelled the audience from their seats, who couldn’t help but do the twist.

This is a wonderful show that really encapsulates the magic of the music industry in the 1960’s and if you liked the TV series, you will love the musical. It is a fabulous experience that celebrates the life and music of one of Liverpool’s finest.

Cilla The Musical is at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until Saturday, February 10.

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