NOT only do you get Cilla Black in Jeff Pope’s stage version of his ITV series about the Liverpudlian singer and, in later years, television personality in shows like Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.

The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and the Mama and Papas also figure in this vastly entertaining wallow in nostalgia for those Swinging Sixties and the amazing pop stars it produced.

But this is no simple jukebox musical. Pope has fashioned an admittedly cliched rags-to-riches story as office girl Priscilla White finds fame and fortune as Cilla Black. But as much time is given to Cilla’s romance with Bobby Willis, the man who became both manager and husband, the parental disapproval and the unhappy life of music promoter Brian Epstein who “discovered” her singing with the Fab Four in Liverpool’s Cavern club.

What elevates this to the sensational is the central performance - a truly star-making performance - from Kara Lily Hayworth as Cilla with a belting singing voice that echoes the Liverpudlian chart-topper’s own voice and an acting range that shows the many sides of Cilla.

She’s surrounded by a cast of fantastic actors and musicians, notably Carl Au’s Bobby Willis and Andrew Lancel’s troubled Brian Epstein.

York Grand Opera House until Saturday. Box office 0844 8713024.

Then Newcastle Theatre Royal 27 Feb - 3 March. Box office 08448 112121. theatre

Raymond Crisp