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Cilla? Brilla!
Phil Hopkins, Travel & Arts Correspondent
Cilla
A former news editor once advised me: “Be careful with the adjectives, use them too generously and you will have nothing to say when they’re really needed.” This time I am safe, for the musical Cilla was absolutely brilliant.

And, in the same way that Jolson, Barnum and Gigi are requiring of incredible lead ‘anchors’, Kara Lily Hayworth did not let the side down in the title role.

Clearly this leggy powerhouse had studied the voice of Merseyside’s ‘girl-next-door’ and used her incredible vocal capability to re-produce a wonderful Cilla Black sound, that had the ‘of-a-certain- age’ audience begging for more.

As half of them rose to applaud Hayworth with a standing ovation one lady was heard to say: “They all want to gerrup, only half of ‘em just can’t!”
The 60’s set, frequently a reproduction of Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club or a backcloth of Merseyside’s many terrace houses, once occupied by its city’s dockers, transported everyone back to a time when mini skirts were only credible if worn as belts!

Andrew Lancel was the cut-glass accented Brian Epstein, the initial manager and driving force behind Cilla, and an individual with huge demons, clearly trapped by class and unable to reveal his homosexuality at a time when such things were never discussed or condoned.

Lancel is a versatile actor, I saw him as Brian Clough in The Damned United at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and never fails to deliver a new side to his character, whilst Carl Au as Cilla’s husband Bobby was well worth the Sondheim Prize that he won as Student Performer of the Year. A great, young actor, with a superb voice and much potential.

A real story

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It could easily have become yet another jukebox musical – take a load of well-known numbers and string them together to produce something catchy enough to make them buy tickets – but it wasn’t, it was more.

Again, there was a ‘real’ story, which is always the clincher, and, at times, I genuinely found myself welling-up as the vulnerable relationship between Cilla and Bobby was tested to its limits.

Music has a habit of touching the heartstrings, however, when the story draws you in with climaxing gravity, it makes for a powerful mix of music and drama.

Occasionally there were some overly thin Liverpudlian accents, Bill Caple as Ringo could afford to have turned up the Scouse a couple of notches, however, if that was my only marginal criticism, then it is safe to say that

Hughie Green’s clapometer is still in the top quartile, and that Cilla has passed all the stardom tests.

Well worth a visit.

Bradford Alhambra
Until Saturday 2nd December 2017

Cilla? Brilla!, 29th November 2017, 11:01 AM