Cilla at New Wimbledon Theatre
Cilla is one of the latest jukebox musicals doing the rounds which not only features the songs of Cilla Black herself but also numbers from her era by artists such as The Beatles and The Mamas and Papas.
The show follows Cilla White (her real name) from her early days singing at the now famous Cavern Club, her meeting of future husband Bobby Willis through to her first stint on her BBC variety show, ‘Cilla.’
Cilla is slow to get moving and a large part of Act 1 is spent concentrating on Cilla and her friends at the Cavern Club watching The Beatles and the Big Three. It is not until nearly the end of Act 1 that we get to Cilla’s first audition for Brian Epstein and the story really begins to develop. If you have come to see the show just for the music then this won’t be an issue however even in a jukebox musical a storyline is still paramount and this is lacking initially.
The show itself is a long show at nearly 3 hours including the interval. Many of the numbers, especially in the beginning of the show could be cut and later numbers could be trimmed. Cilla Black herself, whilst undeniably a star only had 6 top 5 hits. This fact is papered over by heavily featuring other artists, again drawing the focus away from Cilla herself.
The show is carried by Kara Lily Hayworth in the title role. Not only does she have a jaw dropping voice but if you closed your eyes you would easily believe that you were listening to Cilla herself talk and sing. She also managed to convey the journey that Cilla went on from gawky, nervous young girl to a star with even Hayworth’s voice appearing to mature throughout the show.
Bobby is played by Carl Au and he really had you rooting for him from his days trying to chat up Cilla through to their brief separation. He had a lovely tone to his voice which blended particularly well with Hayworth’s.
The staging of the show looked relatively simple but there were many locations throughout the show. The fact that it looked simple is credit to the technical team and the designer. The lighting enhanced this with proscenium changing colours depending on where you were. The ending image with a huge ‘CILLA’ in lights was a great visual image to leave the audience with (and perfect for the Instagram photo at the end of the show.
Whilst Cilla could do with a trim and a tighter focus on the storyline, it is enjoyable night at the theatre even if for nothing more than to marvel at Hayworth’s voice and a generous dose of nostalgia.
Find out more about the show on their website.