Show Stoppers Column: Lorra love for Cilla

Nancy Stevens talks with Kara Lily Hayworth, the musical star who pays homage to the incredible Cilla Black.

Cilla the Musical returns to Milton Keynes Theatre from October 30 to November 3, based on the TV series by Jeff Pope.

Chosen from thousands at an open audition, Kara Lily Hayworth stars in the role she was destined to play.

She told me Cilla’s son Robert Willis had asked for somebody who wasn’t going to impersonate his mum, but someone who could capture her spirit. And he was sure that Kara, with her huge personality and amazing voice, is the one Cilla would have wanted.

Set in sixties Liverpool, young Priscilla White performs at The Cavern Club for fun, secretly yearning to be a star. 

Bobby Willis, played by a brilliant Carl Au, falls for the tiny redhead with the huge voice. Au is superb, but when Hayworth is on stage, it is virtually impossible to look at anyone else, such is her star quality.

It is the familiar story of how Cilla was introduced by The Beatles to their manager, Brian Epstein, played with pathos by the excellent Andrew Lancel. We see her rise to fame, and the ambition that almost cost her relationship with Bobby. 

As she sang Anyone Who Had a Heart, You are My World, Alfie and Step Inside of Love, we felt we’d seen something truly unique – not merely someone trying to emulate Cilla, but a girl from Watford who has managed her own exquisite interpretation of one of our greatest singers.

This is a fabulous show with a strong supporting cast, from the band who played The Beatles, to Big Cilla,  Pauline Fleming as the mother who lives vicariously through her daughter’s success, to Neil McDonald’s John White, as Cilla’s loving father.

This homage to her more than does her justice, and I am sure she will be looking down and having a lorra lorra laughs.

Listen to Nancy Stevens’ award winning local arts show on Secklow Sounds 105.5FM on Sunday nights from 6pm-8pm. Listen again at

This column was published in the October 2018 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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