Well, what can I say, this show has it all – from a ‘lorra laughs’ to heartbreak and tears. Pricilla White was a young girl with ‘suitability’ (as her mum would say) that would one day see her name in lights and in this musical, we see the timeline of the 60’s... From her first encounter with her beloved ‘Our Bobby’ to her relationship with her manager Brian Epstein.
Not easy to play such an icon, I would imagine but Kara Lily Hayworth was simply fantastic. From the second she came onto the stage, she owned it. Her acting was fantastic and her vocals were brilliant - she really brought out the cheeky, cheery, happy Cilla we all came to know and love. Well done Kara. Her performance of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” with such a breathtaking climax, that the cast had to wait for the applause to die down before they could continue on, was just sublime. This young lady has an amazing talent and I hope to see more of her in the future.
Hayworth was well matched by her two leading men – Carl Au (Bobby Willis) and Andrew Lancel (Brian Epstein)... We did get to hear both sing, Au produced a well voiced “A Taste of Honey” and Lancel, a very touching rendition of “You’ve Got to Hide your Love Away” proving just what a tortured soul he really was. Both men acted their roles extremely well.
The music, as you would expect was a compilation of Cilla’s hits from her first initial number 35 hit “Love of the Loved” in 1963 to her number 7 hit “It’s For You” in 1964 but also included numbers by The Beatles, Big Three and Mamas and Papas and all numbers were very well performed by everyone.. I do need to mention Michael Hawkins who portrayed the late John Lennon as his vocals were amazing. I do feel I should talk about one particular song and how it was played out – I understand that Cilla did a cover of “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” and although the song was performed beautifully by both Hayworth and Au, it seemed very different to the rest of the music. Every other song was a ‘performance’ whereas this was your typical musical theatre duet with a singer at both ends of the stage looking out into space. For me, it didn’t fit the rest of the show however, I nit-pick and as I previously said, it was a beautiful performance from both.
The band was a little different for this as for the most part, they were on the stage as part of the cast. They were the Big Three and The Beatles. They were the session artists in the recording studios and the supporting band on Cilla’s TV show... They were brilliant and very well led by Musical Director Scott Adler.
The whole company looked like they were very much enjoying their opening night in Manchester and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so, hopefully to packed audiences with more standing ovations as they will certainly be deserved.
Sound was mostly on target tonight with just a few little feedback issues towards the end but other than that, worked well with the onstage orchestra/band and singers without any hardship. The lighting team were fantastic with some wonderful effects. And the ‘CILLA’ at the end was a sight to be seen, marvellous. Congrats guys.
Costumes really were very good and spot on for the era with the mini skirt and the knee high boots... But wardrobe also did well for the other more ‘out there’ costumes of the Beatles and the Mamas and Papas. Very well done to the costume department. Also, congratulations to Helen Williamson and the wig team for some very realistic pieces... well done.
The set was superb and very cleverly done, from the lavish office of Brian Epstein to the downtrodden parlour of the ‘Whites’ flat above the hairdressers, everything had its place and was in place. Clean and quick set changes always help with the flow of a show...
This is yet another highly successful Bill Kenwright production and always with his shows, it was slick, fun and truly memorable. He certainly has a winning team on his hands and with Kara taking the lead, there should be no stopping CILLA.
I urge you to go and see this wonderful feel good musical when it comes to a town near you... Enjoy your tour guys, you really do deserve the praise... “BOSS”
Reviewer: Hazel Bumby
Reviewed: 21st November, 2017
North West End Rating: ★★★★