Remembering Cilla Black

Kara Lily Hayworth - Cilla the Musical (c) Jono Symonds
Kara Lily Hayworth - Cilla the Musical (c) Jono Symonds

Cilla – The Musical brings back to the stage one of the great figures of the 1960s, the late, lamented Cilla Black.

Based on the critically-acclaimed ITV mini-series charting Cilla’s early life, it offers the tale of an ordinary teenage girl from Liverpool, Priscilla White, and her rocky, yet remarkable, rise to fame.

By the age of just 25 she was recognised as international singing star Cilla Black and would go on to become one of Britain’s favourite television entertainers headlining series including Blind Date, Surprise Surprise and many more.

The show plays Southampton’s Mayflower from October 3-7 offering a soundtrack

including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie and Something Tells Me, alongside a backdrop of the Liverpool Sound including The Beatles’ Twist and Shout, and American influences such California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas.

Clearly finding the right Cilla was going to be crucial.

Following weeks of open auditions at venues up and down the country, executive producer and Cilla’s son, Robert Willis, found the star he wanted in Kara Lily Hayworth. Robert announced: “I knew she was the one my mum would have wanted!”

The show opened, appropriately, in Liverpool, and Kara was thrilled at the response: “We go through now until December and then have a break and then the second leg is until March, but they are hoping to add more shows after that.”

Part of the attraction is that at the heart of the show is a beautiful love story, Kara says, the tale of Cilla and her then boyfriend/future husband Bobby: “We join Cilla in this show just as she was starting out on her career, playing the pubs and clubs around Merseyside with The Beatles. She is very confident. She knows what she wants and she puts herself out there. And she gets what she wants.

“Preparing for the role, luckily there was just tons of stuff, videos of her old performances and interviews. It was quite easy to get to see what she was like as a performer and a person, and her son Robert gave me an autobiography to read. It was important to get the little trademark movements, the way she moved her arms while she was singing and so on. She came across really naturally, like she did on the television shows she did. She always said what she thought. She was just natural and funny. She was so well-loved.”

Difficult shoes to step into?

“Robert said he didn’t want an impersonation. He wanted someone that would capture her spirit in the show.”

Tickets on www.mayflower.org.uk.