Crack open the champagne – Cilla is back.

Kara Lily Hayworth – chosen from open auditions – plays Cilla Black and all I can say is a ‘a lorra lorra luv, Chuck.’

You deserve much praise for pulling off the incredible feat of playing a home-grown star who, sadly, left us far too early in 2015.

This is a multi-layered, big-hearted production that has the best of both worlds: polished script and timeless music delivered by a cast of 20 who relish the challenge of telling the story of how a Scouse star was born.

The set design by Gary McCann is slick - a visual treat as we are taken to the Cavern, terraced houses, Abbey Road Studios and The London Palladium.

Wirral Globe:

L-R Christopher Weeks, Alex Harford, Jay Osbourne, Gemma Brodrick-Bower (Pauline). Picture: Matt Martin

The direction by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson is what you would expect from these masters of their stage craft.

Musical director Scott Alder and choreographer Carole Todd give the audience plenty to clap about as we are transported back to 1963 and Merseybeat.

We see and hear the Big Three, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Beatles.

It is a nice twist (and shout) that here we see the naturalness of The Fab Four – as loyal friends of Cilla supporting her along the way in her bid for stardom.

John Lennon was instrumental in urging manager Brian Epstein to listen to the cloak room girl born Priscilla White in 1943 gifted with a unique voice and personality.

Michael Hawkins as John raises laughs when he calls her Cyril – his pet name for Cilla.

Wirral Globe:

Kara Lily Hayworth as Cilla. Picture: Matt Martin

And Bill Caple is a first class Ringo – also drumming up Cilla’s confidence.

The Beatle numbers are spot on especially You Really Got a Hold on Me and a very inventive re-working of You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.

Humour is perfectly pitched throughout and Cilla’s parents - Big Cilla played by Pauline Fleming and Paul Broughton as ex merchant seaman dad John are a joy in every scene they appear in.

It is a musical play that has a love story at its core as Bobby Willis played wonderfully by Carl Au (CORRECT) stands by the love of his life through ups and downs even giving up a promising singing career to look after his soul mate.

Their duet on 'You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling' is a highlight.

Like the TV series, also written by Jeff Pope, the stage version features some very simple yet poignant scenes at a phone box – Cilla’s home town hot-line to Eppy - played so convincingly by Andrew Lancel.

And, of course, there are the songs that Cilla made her own.

'Anyone Who Had a Heart', 'Alfie', 'Love of the Loved' and her other number one song 'You’re My World'.

I believe the latter classic pop song should be sang again after the final song Through the Years.

It would be a show-stopper all over again. A powerful encore for Kara to take her bow.

That song sums up Cilla on so many levels: how she felt about her beloved Bobby, Liverpool, her family and her fans.

To quote one of her hits... something tells me this musical will be a nationwide hit.

It is a 24 carat celebration of Cilla Black and her lasting legacy.


Five stars - Cilla The Musical at Liverpool Empire Theatre, until September 16.

For tickets call the box office 0844 871 3017 or visit