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Cilla the Musical steps inside the Liverpool Empire

BAFTA-winning screenwriter Jeff Pope’s Cilla was a hit with audiences and critics alike when it was shown by ITV three years ago.

So he will be hoping for the same reaction when the stage musical version of the mini-series has its world premiere at the Liverpool Empire this week.

Like the TV series, Cilla the Musical tells the story of the rise to stardom of the Scottie Road songbird born Priscilla White, and the heartache, setbacks and triumphs along the way.

Kara Lily Hayworth was chosen to play the title role after a nationwide open call for actresses saw more than 2,000 would-be Cillas queue outside venues including the Empire.

Andrew Lancel steps in to the shoes of the late manager and entrepreneur Brian Epstein once more, and there are more Liverpool faces in the cast, with Pauline Fleming playing Big Cilla, Paul Broughton as dad John White, and Carl Au who is playing Cilla’s husband-to-be Bobby.

Fans can expect plenty of Cilla’s big numbers, but the musical also features songs from other Merseybeat acts, including a certain Fab Four.

Kara Lily Hayworth says: “It’s a beautiful story. There’s funny laugh-out-loud moments, there’s bits that will make you cry. Heart-warming moments. It’s a really beautiful script.”

Robert Willis with would-be Cillas at the Liverpool auditions

The show is directed by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson, and the executive producer is none other than Cilla’s eldest son Robert Willis.

He said: “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.

“But more than that, we’ve got some really talented, committed people, who want to make a great, great show.

“It will be hopefully something that will move people, will entertain them, and they’ll want to come back for more.”

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

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