Cilla star revealed ahead of Liverpool Empire premiere

The young actress set to star in Cilla the Musical has been revealed.

Kara Lily Hayworth beat more than 2,000 applicants who flocked to open auditions across the country to play the role of the legendary Liverpool singer and presenter on stage.

And the Central School of Speech and Drama graduate, who is originally from Watford, revealed it was encouragement from Cilla Black herself which gave her the determination to be an actor.

She explains: "When I was 11 I was shopping with my mum and bumped into Cilla and asked her for an autograph. I told her I wanted to be an actress – she laughed and said ‘It’s a tough industry, but if you really work hard and go for it, you’ll be just fine.’

"She was a huge inspiration to me as a child; I grew up watching her on Blind Date every Saturday night with my nan.

"To be chosen to play her is such an honor and I’m so excited to take on the role. To open in her hometown of Liverpool is so special and a real privilege.”

Kara Lily Hayworth (photo by Jono Simonds)

Cilla The Musical, based on Jeff Pope’s award-winning ITV series, will have its world premiere at the Liverpool Empire in September before a UK tour.

Four finalists sang in front of a live audience at the Cavern last month in an afternoon which was filmed for TV, and the eventual winner was announced on This Morning earlier today.

Producer Hamish Greer, of Bill Kenwright Ltd, said: “We’ve seen over 2,000 girls, and we’ve seen all shapes and sizes, and it’s just been lovely to meet people that we wouldn’t normally get to meet.

“We were just looking for someone who the audience would fall in love with, someone who could obviously sing, but who could really get across Jeff Pope’s brilliant speech and dialogue.

“It’s such a captivating story, and you’ve got to play a huge range of emotions.

“So it’s a big ask. But we found some really, really talented girls, all totally different.”

The Cilla finalists with the statue of the singer in Mathew Street

Robert Willis, Cilla’s eldest son, has been an integral part of the audition process.

Speaking outside the Cavern last week he said: “They were all serious about what they wanted to do, which is a great compliment to my mum, that we had such a fantastic response.

“Inevitably you have to whittle it down, and then it’s not just about singing. All the girls here today have fantastic singing voices, all very different. But it’s about the acting as well, the acting is just as important as the singing.

“So that was where Bill (Kenwright) worked with them, and that’s how we’ve managed to reduce the numbers down to the last four. I’d be happy with any of these girls.”

Cilla the Musical follows the extraordinary life of Priscilla White from Liverpool, and her rise to fame. By the age of 25 she was recognized as international singing star Cilla Black. By the age of 30 she had become Britain’s favourite television entertainer headlining series of Blind Date, Surprise Surprise and many more.

So what can people expect if they come to the Empire to see the show?

Robert says: “It’s a wonderful love story, it’s got a great soundtrack, and it hopefully will evoke a fantastic period of music and a great time within this city.”

Cilla the Musical is at the Liverpool Empire from September 7-16. Tickets from the website HERE.