A MUSICAL based on Cilla Black’s journey to success, featuring the songs she is most known for and others, including her buddies, The Beatles sounds like a lorra fun, for the right audience. While Cilla (or Cyril, if you’re John Lennon) emerged as a singer, her career developed in the glow of her personality into Light Entertainment, of which she became a Queen. But this show, which has her own son as Executive Producer, is focussed on the early years, so its Alfie in, Blind Date out.

The musical numbers for this show are skewed in favour of her songs – just. There are a lot of numbers by others – too many, so that the story – of a determined Liverpool lass with a ton of raw talent is eclipsed. It is there – the story of her and Bobby, her growing confidence, but its been shoehorned into the jukebox musical model which is song after song after song and so the pace falls through the floor. The script is occasionally clumsy, especially in dealing with prejudice.

Kara Lily Hepworth has a fabulous voice and is really believable as Cilla, the gawky young star whose initial dream is for an indoor toilet and a real front door. The number where she first auditions for Epstein, singing off key, is difficult to watch and I could imagine, hugely tricky to sing. (Epstein said no, on that occasion).

The guys playing The Beatles, particularly Michael Hawkins as John Lennon and Joshua Gannon as Paul McCartney are doing a great lookalike /soundalike act. But the music in The Cavern lacks a raw, hungry edge.

There are some great lights – zinging around like fluorescent batons and a stage on the stage which swishes forward and back, which works well in the format.

The audience were entertained. They didn’t really go mad until California Dreamin’ which was lots of fun and it sounded different.

But I wanted more grit, more hunger and more Cilla.

Sarah Scott