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  • Review by john Murray

Cilla the Musical


If you enjoyed the TV series on Cilla you will already have loved the music and after all Anyone Who Had A Heart remains the biggest single hit in the UK for a female artist. Since then we have heard of the adaptation to become Cilla The Musical by BAFTA award winning Jeff Pope, the thousands of auditions to find a leading lady and the acclaim of opening at the Liverpool Empire (where else really?)

Well after an opening just last week I spoke to Executive Producer Robert Willis live on k107FM radio on what must have been an emotional stage presentation seeing the struggles and triumphs of his late mother and father portrayed on stage LISTEN HERE

This week the show moved to the Edinburgh Playhouse ahead of a huge UK tour and the anticipation was high. Presented by Bill Kenwright and Lawrie Mansfield for just eight shows this is the biggest show in the capital this year so far. We see the humble typist in Liverpool as she was teased into a guest spot at the old Cavern with the Big Three. How The Beatles became involved and how Bobby Willis fell for the young Cilla at any cost. Her recording sessions for Alfie are featured as is her visit to the US for the Ed Sullivan Show and along the way the family turmoil and false starts. Kara Lily Hayworth is a worthy Cilla in both accent and voice. The subtle changes in hair and dress show particular attention to detail as do the song arrangements with Some Other Guy, Boys, Roll Over Beethoven and a storming Twist and Shout all played live by the actors on stage. To close Act One we join Brian Epstein, Bobby Willis and George Martin at Abbey Road to record the first chart topper Anyone Who Had A Heart, a real belter showcasing the vocal power of young Kara and leaving no one in doubt why she is 100% Cilla – this was a goose bump moment. As seen on the TV version Burt Bacharach was not the easiest to get along with for his movie title song Alfie – dozens of takes were undertaken and summarised perfectly here for the stage. As our heroine becomes a TV entertainer we get a medley of the years that follow with three songs perfectly portrayed. There are many scene changes to tell this story from the parent’s front room to the Cavern to the studio to the London Palladium and all efficiently handled by the actors and the young dancers who make the atmosphere complete in the fashion of the day. Many of the audience will know the story or have seen the TV series but this experience before us was just fab (as they used to say) and deserving of the long applause and standing ovation at this Scottish Premiere.

Edinburgh Playhouse till Sept 23rd

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