It’s been more than 2 years since Cilla Black died at the age of 72. She was a beloved icon and this is a biographical retelling of her early years. We get a behind the scenes look at the circumstances which resulted in her eventual rise to fame as one of the best loved Artists of the 60s. It was originally written by Jeff Pope for television, for the 2014 series Cilla, where the title role was played by Sheridan Smith. In this new stage adaptation, Cilla is portrayed by Kara Lily Hayworth. And she is absolutely magnificent! For a moment I closed my eyes and I could swear I could hear the real Cilla Black. What Hayworth does with the role is not merely ‘putting on a voice’. She inhibits the grit, determination and fun loving personality that was the essence of Cilla.
The story begins as Cilla, an office typist is introduced to Beatles manager Brian Epstein by her friend John Lennon. After a disastrous first audition, Brian see’s the potential she has and signs her as his only female artist. Along with her boyfriend Bobby Willis (who would go on to become her husband) they navigate the ever changing world of pop in the 60s. It is a jukebox musical, such as the likes of Jersey Boys, and is built around a framework of well known and loved hits of the time such as California Dreaming (Mamas and Papas) and Gerry and The Pacemakers (I Like It). We see the ups and downs of life in the spotlight and get a glimpse into what her life was like as she fought to gain recognition internationally. After showing her succeed in the world of pop, the show closes as she begins her foray into the world of television. From there, as they say, the rest is history.
It’s worth coming to see alone for Hayworths’ stunning portrayal of this legend. A fitting tribute to a life well lived.
Running at the Bord Gais until Saturday 10th of February
(Words by Ranae von Meding)