CILLA The Musical – Our Review

Cilla – The Musical – Our Review

Last week we were invited to the press night of Cilla -The Musical which is on a UK Tour at our favourite venue The New Wimbledon Theatre, so was there to be any Surprise Surprises? Or did Graham have the perfect match behind door Number one?!

Sorry had to get the classic Cilla Black puns in there first!

So you may have heard that a tour of Cilla was going around the UK or you may not have, but what exactly was it all about?

Dependent on your age you will know Cilla Black for differing reasons. If your younger you will know her through the tv shows Blind Date and Surprise Surprise most likely. However there was much more to this Liverpudlian icon cherished by not only those in the Mersey but all over the country with her personable demeanour and everyday accent. Cilla in fact sang, and a pretty good singer she was indeed!

The play written by Jeff Pope who also created the TV mini series covers the same time period of Cilla’s career from budding singer, to recording artist, No.1 Selling artist, attempts to crack Americas and back to the UK. A fading music star,onto the death of Brian Epstein and the start of her TV Career.

So for a show like this who was in the lead role? Well Kara Lily Hayworth was cast after an open audition search.

Kara queued for four hours at London’s Dominion Theatre to have her chance to audition in the first rounds. She made it through to the final 30 before being chosen to do her final audition at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

Robert Willis said, ‘We wanted somebody who wasn’t going to impersonate my mum but someone who could capture her spirit. Kara came in with her huge personality and amazing voice – when I saw the response of the audience at the Cavern, I knew we’d found her!”

Originally from Watford, Kara trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She recently performed in Secret Cinema’s Moulin Rouge and this will be her first leading role in a big new musical…and her first time on tour!

She said “When I was 11 I was shopping out with my mum and bumped into Cilla and asked her for an autograph. I told her I wanted to be an actress – she laughed and said ‘It’s a tough industry, but if you really work hard and go for it, you’ll be just fine.’ She was a huge inspiration to me as a child; I grew up watching her on Blind Date every Saturday night with my Nan. To be chosen to play her is such an honour and I’m so excited to take on the role. To open in her hometown of Liverpool is so special and a real privilege.”

So after such promise through auditions and success in being picked, Kara then went onto blow us and the crowd away. Kara Lily Haworth’s portrayal was honest, down to earth, endearing and a joy to watch.

From the would be singer in her bedroom imagining herself on the stage, to the odd song down the club with the ‘The Big Three’ in front of friends and very early on with her other friends – a small group called ‘The Beatles’. Her Beauty matched with what is a fabulous voice ensured that she was the best person for the role. Her chemistry with ‘Our Bobby’ was true and believable. Seeing her pursue her career almost single-mindedly with him standing on by the side throughout only ever wanting the best for her.

Kara has mostly lived life as a singer and actress performing as a soloist at The Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Stadium and for the past three years performing with her band Zyrah Rose who were also on Britain’s Got Talent and who in fact reached the Semi Finals! Kara has also featured in Short and feature films notably starring in ‘A bad day at the Office’ which made it to the Cannes Film Festival and also alongside Emily Blunt as a lady in waiting in the blockbuster  ‘The Huntsman:A Winters Tale.

Kara has had a couple of roles previously in theatre, playing the title role in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ followed by another title role as Sephi/Persephone in Persephone (a love story) and her latest role in  Secret Cinema’s Moulin Rouge, which no doubt helped prepare her for the Biggest Theatre Lead role yet.

To every success there is someone in the background silently helping them along and in this case it was Carl Au who played ‘Bobby Willis’. His portrayal was spot on and his love for Cilla and humour shone through. From seeing his great negotiation skills in getting a drop in wages to perform with the ‘Big Three’ and having to make it up with his own money was a highlight. His abiding love and outright determination to see Cilla make it as a success at the cost of his own ambition and emotional turmoil with family needs and beliefs tearing at him. To see him by Cilla’s side when he was a reassuring figure who inspired confidence in the singer to the times she would record and then tell him to get out of the way because he was in the way made you feel for this at times cheeky chappy.

The musical score takes centre stage and Kara’s voice in one of an angel (with a scouse accent), belting out the Hits with the highlight being ‘Anyone who had a heart’ her first No.1 which almost took the roof down at the end of the first act. Kara had us in her hands like putty watching her perform this, totally and utterly mesmerised going onto sing ‘You’re my world’  which also hit No.1 and we would be amiss to not mention Kara’s rendition of ‘Alfie’, having to retake it take after take on Burt Bacharach’s request to find that something special, indeed gave us a chance to listen to her voice again and again. Another standout was her Duet with Carl Au ‘ ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ which also showed us Carls just as amazing voice.

Apart from the leads there were also great performances from other members of the cast from Andrew Lancels performance as Brian Epstein which was brilliance. Dealing with his own torment and emotions to having to manage his time between the Beatles and Cilla. His belief in her right until the end where his death introduces us to the start of Cillas Tv Career and the end of the play.

Big Cilla played by Pauline Fleming and Paul Broughton as John White were both Cillas parents.Both brought good humour and obvious parental cautiousness to her aspiring dreams, then taking it all in at Abbey Road Studios proudly watching their daughters success.

I also couldn’t write this without mentioning how good the Beatles were also! Bill Caple, Joshua Gannon, Michael Hawkins and Alex Harford could easily be mistaken for the Fab four!

If you haven’t booked tickets already then we urge you too.

See the Trailer for the show and samples of Kara’s amazing voice:



Regent Theatre, Stoke
14 – 18 November 0844 871 7649

Palace Theatre, Manchester
21 – 25 November 0844 871 3019

Bradford, Alahambra Theatre
28 November – 2 December 01274 432 000

Dartford Orchard Theatre
16 – 20 January 01322 220 000

York, Grand Opera House
23 – 27 January 0844 871 3024

Glasgow, Kings Theatre
30 January – 3 February 0844 871 3024

Oxford, New Theatre
13 – 17 February 0844 871 3020

Derngate Theatre, Northampton
20 – 24 February 01604 624 811

Newcastle, Theatre Royal
27 February – 3 March 0844 811 2121

Bristol Hippordrome
13 – 17 March 0844 871 7627

Woking, New Theatre
20 – 24 March 844 871 7645

More tour dates to be confirmed soon.
Visit for all the latest tour and audition information




CILLA - The Musical
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