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Cilla. Milton Keynes Theatre

Cilla visits Milton Keynes Theatre this week and although its Cilla - The Musical – it feels like an audience with Cilla. What a phenomenal show this is! The show covers the rise of Priscilla White’s journey to stardom to Cilla Black, the legend who had TV shows and number one hits. The story covers all the significant moments in Cilla’s life and you do feel you are on a journey with her. The first half is set in Liverpool. Cilla is friendly with Ringo and knows The Beatles before they were well-known. She gets up to sing with them in the Cavern and not only do we see Cilla’s humble beginnings but we feel like we are actually there at the Cavern watching The Beatles.

Kara Lily Hayworth plays Cilla and she is simply phenomenal and encompasses all of Cilla’s personality and character. Her vocals are so good that during Step Inside Love I had shivers going down my back, during Anyone Who Had A Heart I found tears in my eyes. This is a real emotional journey and Kara is so likeable in the role that you are willing her to succeed (even though we all know the story) – Kara is a real star!

Cilla’s parents are John White played by Neil Macdonald and Big Cilla played by Jayne Ashely. They have a great dynamic between them and Neil some of the best lines in the show. We can see he is a strong but caring dad but is also worldly wise as he tells people he was in the merchant navy. Big Cilla is very proud of her daughter, especially as she is suitable for secretary work and Jayne portrays this perfectly. Cilla meets Bobby at the Cavern and Bobby falls in love with Cilla. Bobby is played by Alexander Patmore and he is outstanding in the role and gives a smashing performance of Bobby, showing his caring side, dedication to Cilla and his range of emotions. It is well known that Brian Epstein managed The Beatles but he also managed Cilla. Brian is played by Andrew Lancel and he plays the role very well. Poor Brian who had the pain of a secret life dedicated his life to his work. Andrew shows that Brian was troubled but professional and gives a very emotional performance.

There are regular themes running through this show. family, religion, music and relationships. Themes the audience can relate to. This show has a great script and the sets are also well considered. There are so many things besides Cilla to enjoy in this show; The Beatles and Gerry Marsden performances, The Mammas and the Pappas on the Ed Sullivan show, Burt Bacharach recording Alfie, even the dancers on the show – I really enjoyed all the choreography, John Lennon’s sense of humour, even Paul McCartney’s guitar. All these things all add value to the show and make it feel fully rounded. With a very talented cast, this is a very professional performance. Liverpudlian humour runs throughout the show and along with a range of fabulous songs such as Twist And Shout, Boys, I Like It, Baby It’s You, You Really Got A Hold On Me, You’re My World, Alfie, A Taste Of Honey, Step inside love and Anyone Who Had A Heart would know it’s not just a celebration of Cilla, it’s a celebration of all the fabulous 60’s music and it is a real nostalgia trip down memory lane.

In short – this is a wonderful show and if you can suspend belief and accept that you won’t be seeing the real Beatles or Cilla Black – then this is a magical feel good show. It’s one I feel will run and run and audiences will want to go and see this again and again. I have now seen this three times and cannot recommend this show highly enough. This show deserves your attention. It deserves a permanent standing ovation. It is fabulous. Anyone who had a heart will love this show.

Cilla The Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 3 November.

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