Cilla The Musical at New Theatre, Oxford

Cilla The Musical at New TheatreThis week we went to see Cilla The Musical at the New Theatre in Oxford, the musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed ITV mini-series based on the life of the Liverpudlian legend, Cilla Black, written by Jeff Pope.

Apart from the amazing soundtrack, filled with Cilla’s greatest numbers and classic rock n’ roll, it’s the cast that makes the production.  The cast stars Kara Lily Hayworth in the title role – in fact, her first leading role in musical.  

Cilla The Musical at New Theatre

At the end of the first act, I honestly thought Kara was going to explode as the wall of sound crescendoed from her tiny frame reaching the climax ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’.   

According to the press release, Kara queued for four hours at London’s Dominion Theatre to have her chance to audition in the first rounds. She made it through to the final 30 before being chosen to do her final audition at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

Cilla The Musical at New Theatre

Robert Willis, executive producer and Cilla’s son, said: We wanted somebody who wasn’t going to impersonate my mum but someone who could capture her spirit. Kara came in with her huge personality and amazing voice – when I saw the response of the audience at the Cavern, I knew we’d found her!”

It was clear that just like her lead character, Kara was quite adored by her fellow cast – there was lots of doffing of fictional caps and insistence of extra bows – especially by Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street and Bad Girls) as Brian Epstein and Carl Au as Bobby.

Both mum and I felt that the star of the show was Carl Au as Bobby. Helped by his natural Liverpudlian tones, Mum, an avid Cilla fan, reckoned that Carl captured the character of Bobby beautifully. Looking at Carl’s ‘Spotlight’ profile his training is extensive – ballad, ballet, baritone, choreography, contemporary dance, jazz dancing and jazz singing!

Cilla The Musical at New Theatre

Cilla The Musical tells the story of a Liverpool girl, with a talented voice and a legendary introduction by John Lennon to Brian Epstein, kickstarting a career that lasted decades. We felt that even the group playing the Beatles caught many of their band’s mannerisms – I did wonder if they were a tribute band? I hope they won’t be insulted by that speculation.

You can catch Cilla on tour in Bristol, Woking and Aylesbury. For tickets, visit


Cilla The Musical at New Theatre


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