Review: Cilla the Musical at the Palace Theatre Manchester

  • Cilla the Musical at the Palace Theatre
  • Northern Quota reporter Jess Stoddard reviews the brand new musical

Based on the hit television series, Bill Kenwrght and Laurie Mansfield present BAFTA Award winning Jeff Pope’s Cilla’s the Musical.

A star of the charts and the telly, this ’60s icon won the hearts of millions across the world. It tells the extraordinary story of the teenage girl from Liverpool whose teenage dreams of stardom lead to her becoming one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers of all time.

From her early career with The Beatles, The Big Three, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Mamas and Papas to her rise to fame across the globe, this hit musical includes some of the Cilla classics such as You’re my World, Love of the Loved, Alfie and Anyone Who Had a Heart.

If you expected a sing-along musical, you will be disappointed, for the songs asre not there to sing along to like in most jukebox musicals – they help move the story along through the years of Cilla’s early career.

Kara Lily Hayworth captures Cilla incredibly, stealing the show with the act one closing number Anyone Who Had a Heart, which was Cilla’s first number one single in February 1964. She recreates Cilla’s tone and gestures so well that the audience believed we were in the recording studio with Cilla herself. With the classic comedy and girl next door shyness, you cannot help but fall in love with her.

With every Cilla comes her dynamic duo of Bobby and Brian Epstein. Carl Au’s instant love is undoubtedly clear and he persistent love through out Cilla’s demanding career is one to admire. Au’s hopeless romantic demeanour is childlike and sweet and he sings A Taste of Honey with gorgeous tone. 

Andrew Lancel also gives a extraordinary performance as music mogul Brian Epstein who changed Cilla’s life forever.

The set is slick, transporting us from the night clubs to Cilla’s parent’s flat above the hairdresser. I loved the details in the club scenes, as you always have one person who doesn’t dance just in time, and this detail was executed by the fabulous ensemble. 

The costumes, the high heeled boots and the beehive and bowl cut hairstyles instantly take us back to the ’60s. 

The story ends with Brian Epstein’s death and at the beginning of Cilla’s TV career. Even with the heart-breaking moments, the musical manages to maintain elements of comedy throughout, with Bobby continuing to ask ‘what on earth Brian Epstein knows about music?’

If you only take out of this musical that it’s about Cilla (and that it’s set in Liverpool and includes the Beatles), this musical is a perfect remembrance of Cilla’s career and life after her sad passing in 2015. Also, it has an underdog to cheer for, plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a breathtaking music score.

There honestly is something for everyone here, with you laughing, crying and feeling all other emotions inbetween. Cilla the Musical is simply fabulous!

Cilla the Musical is running at the Palace Theatre until 25 November.