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Apr 28th

Chicago, Phoenix Theatre

By Douglas McFarlane



You’ll have seen Chicago before most likely. It’s now in it’s 43rd year and I’d seen it quite a few times over this period.  I was wondering whether I would still enjoy it as much. Not since Ruthie Henshall performed as Roxy, has the female leads role been advertised as ‘starring’. I’ve seen the Billy Flynn role being plugged with Darius Danesh, the former Xfactor Scot, Marti Pellow, the former Wet Wet Wet Scot, and this time it wasn’t a Scot but American film star Cuba Gooding Jr.

It has been over 5 years since Chicago was in London, and its now taken over the excellent Phoenix Theatre where I saw Blood Brothers performed for many years. Next door is an excellent pre-theatre restaurant which was part of the former stage dressing area where Noel Coward & Laurence Olivier would have frequented. The Phoenix Theatre opened in 1930 with the premiere of Noel Coward's Private Lives featuring Coward himself in the cast along with a young Laurence Olivier.

With an impressive theatre, I had high hopes and there were a few surprises in the cast which were to transform the musical for me. It literally turned from a sexy show to entertain audiences looking for a great night out, to being recognised as a classic in my eyes.

What made the change ?

Well, Cuba Gooding Jr was excellent in the role, fitting the shady but dapper Chicago lawyer perfectly. His  subtle humour was evident all the way through and you couldn’t help smile at his performance. His dance routines were a delight and flirting with the dance girls with feathers the best I’ve seen.

No, it wasn’t just Cuba which made the big change. It wasn’t Ruthie Henshall either. It was a delight to see her in the ‘Mamma’ role, given that she made the original Roxy her own in the show’s revival in 1997. However, she’s a diminutive character and I prefer my ‘Mamma’s’ to have stature, a big presence and a belting voice.

It wasn’t AD Richardson either, back as Mary Sunshine, who always surprises audiences with ‘wait, what ?’ In her ‘reveal’ scene.  

It was a little known Belgian actress who stole the show for me. Sarah Soetaert is her name and you will be hearing a lot more about her in the future. From the moment she appeared to the end of the show, she had my attention. Her tone of voice, her 1930s styling, blonde curly locks, big smile and infectious character turned this show into a classic. The entire audience were bought into it. At times, I was realising why actors are sometimes called artists. This was an artistic performance. It raised the bar in the role to the point of making the show understandable and realistic, if that’s possible.

I’ll go and see Chicago again when she’s performing. She makes you laugh and have an inner warmth and great feeling when you leave the show at the end. The smile on everyone’s faces on leaving was evident, young and old, and it’s great to see a classic get off the ground again for a long run in it’s new theatre venue.

Review by Douglas McFarlane


Chicago is on at the Phoenix Theatre in London for the foreseeable future.

Apr 28th

Kindertransport, Richmond Theatre

By Douglas McFarlane



It means transport for children, in German. The train that takes Jewish children out of Germany before some of the darkest days of our history happened.

A small button was sewn onto the coat of the child. Mum insisted she did it herself, to help teach her to be self sufficient. You see, mum wasn’t going with her on the ‘kindertransport’, and knew that she may never see her beautiful daughter again.

On this premise, the play takes you through a well constructed, thoughtful, emotional journey. We experience the heartache from a number of angles. As the child leaves and the mother holds back her emotions, to her Manchester mother who looks after her, to the child’s older self, now a mum, having arguments with her teenage daughter on keeping information secret.

Tears streamed down my face. Not at a single specific moment. Just constantly during the first act.

We need to see plays like this. We need to experience for one evening, one story of this period, in order to realise how many of these stories there were. How big an atrocity it was, and to understand in some small way what it really means to humanity.

The audience was varied on this evening in Richmond. Teenage girls were in groups and in eager participation. Part of the English curriculum now, this play is about the period 9 months before the outbreak of World War 2 in which the UK took in 10,000 Jewish children from various countries. This year it is 80 years since the first train left.

As you’d expect, the cast were incredible with the now grown up Jewish child being played by the same actress who played the young Jewish girl 25 years ago.

You have to go and see this play. You have to understand this story. It has to continue to be performed.


Review by Douglas McFarlane


Kindertransport is on tonight at Richmond Theatre before heading for Manchester.


Apr 26th

Gut at the Traverse, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

Audiences will be talking about this play long after they have left the theatre.

Multi-award-winning playwright Frances Poet has taken a subject which is, sadly, so often in the news, and hit every parent squarely between the eyes with it.

How to keep your child safe, sometimes even from yourself, is something all parents must agonise over, not only in today’s climate, but with so many historic abuse cases coming to light.

When trusting granny Morven allows a stranger to take her three-year-old grandson Joshua to the toilet in a cafe while she pays for their food, she sets off a chain of events which not only have far reaching consequences for her and her family but will also have every parent in the audience questioning themselves.

The title refers to the gut feelings Morven says she has always been able to trust; it also refers to the feelings Maddy, Joshua’s mother, ‘who grew him in her gut’, thinks she has towards everyone she comes across after the event. Is she right? Will we ever know?

Despite a simple set, a small cast and invisible children, we are totally drawn into the world of Maddy, her husband Rory, and young Joshua.

Kirsty Stuart and Peter Collins are so natural as Maddy and Rory; there’s an easiness between them as, at first, they are fun-loving and flirtatious, but when paranoia sets in the tension between them is raw and palpable. While Lorraine McIntosh, sometimes singer with Deacon Blue, is believably hurt and bewildered as the erring granny.

The final member of the cast, George Anton, is to be praised for his versatility. Not only does he play The Stranger, he also turns up in seven other roles, from a police officer and a charity worker to someone stoned on cannabis. But is he always the good guy?

There are fleeting references to Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter, which add to the realism, and Lego bricks strewn across the floor conjure up a world which is broken, while I like the way Kai Fischer lights a doorway to create menace.

There are lighter moments too. We get to learn about a three-year-old’s toileting, and a musical toy gives the cast a break in their dialogue.

Frances Poet takes us on a journey which had me, at one stage, recoiling in horror, but in director Zinnie Harris’s hands, the world premiere of this work, commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland as part of its new writing intitiative with the Tron and the Traverse, runs like clockwork and is a work of art.


Gut is at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh until May 12


Box office: 0131 228 1404


Apr 24th

The Play that Goes Wrong at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Alison Smith

Nothing is at all wrong with The Play that Goes Wrong; it has a talented cast, highly physical stunts, farcical action and great lines, but above all absolutely perfect comedic timing. It is this last quality that makes the play so right.

The story is simple: Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society at last has enough money to put on a decent production (previous ones have endured meagreness - The Lion and the Wardrobe, Cat, and Two Sisters, James and the Peach). The new play is a very early twentieth century Agatha Christy murder mystery – Murder at Haversham Manor - with the typical characters of the genre – a wealthy home owner, a beautiful girl, a butler, an inspector and, of course, a body. Before the play begins the audience knows the set is not all the Drama Society had hoped – the mantelpiece collapses, the door closes on whim, the broom breaks. The lighting and sound engineer, Trevor, (Gabriel Paul) seems more concerned about a lost dog, Winston, than he does about lights and sound.

The curtain opens on a body on the sofa and attempts to enter the room through the door fail; the butler, Perkins, (Benjamin McMahon) and the fiancee’s brother, Thomas, (Kazeem Tosin Amore) enter through the wings. This first entrance sets the scene for the action. And the mayhem of the play within the play continues with endless energy and great physicality - people are knocked unconscious by doors and trays, a stretcher disintegrates, the lift collapses, Florence (Elena Valentine) is manhandled out of a window This acrobatic activity is accompanied by great dialogue – double entendres, mispronunciation of words, lines repeated, lines mis-timed. The situation is chaotic, the antics preposterous, but the result is hilarious.

The Play that Goes Wrong was written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields of the Mischief Theatre. It is not sophisticated comedy but the writers have a  degree of genius. Praise must also be piled upon the set designer Nigel Hook and the choreography and stage mechanics of all the stunts by Mark Bell, as without the adaptable set and the precise moves the play would not be this ridiculously funny, razor sharp comedy.

The Play that Goes Wrong is a must see!


The Play That Goes Wrong is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 28th April

 0844871 7652

Booking fee applies


acters, the butler sofa and attemptsto enter the room through the door fail - the s oes is that makes the play so right.1111

Apr 24th

Legally Blonde at Kings Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe


OMG you guys!  The audience was packed to the roof in Glasgow’s King’s Theatre last night to see and hear Elle Woods “bend and snap” as only Elle Woods can!  They were treated to a great feel-good show full of catchy tunes and delightful characters.

Legally Blonde is a movie that has achieved almost cult status among its fans.  With an adorable performance from the pint-sized Reese Witherspoon it tells the tale of love-lost Elle who is ceremonially dumped, but follows her ex to Harvard Law School in an effort to win back his heart!  It’s a journey of self-discovery as she learns about her own strengths and finds a way to fight for the underdog as only she can

On stage, this rich and empowering storyline is delivered by strong character performances and an uplifting score full of memorable songs

In the lead role of Elle, Lucie Jones delivered an endearing performance with powerful vocals.  In stature, she was considerably larger than the famously tiny Reese Witherspoon and this detracted somewhat from her vulnerability.  However, she quickly won the audience over with her winning smile and bubbly personality.  By the second act I was cheering for her as loudly as all the pink clad women around me!

Rita Simons, as Paulette, supported well with a fiery character and good comic timing.  Helen Petrovna was outstanding as skipping rope fitness queen, Brooke Wyndham, leading a cast of skip-rope dancers in the spectacular “Whipped Into Shape”.  Elle’s supporting “Greek Chorus” were extremely talented and added harmony and depth to every scene they appeared in

The show has some great musical numbers with highlights being “Omigod You Guys”, “Bend and Snap” and “Legally Blonde”.  I have to add “There! Right There!” to the list - subtitled “Gay, or European?” – it had me rolling in the isles!

All in all, this is a great fun and uplifting production which is well worth the ticket price.

Legally Blonde – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

23-28 April 2018

Evenings 19:30, Matinees 14:30 (Wed, Sat)

Tickets £15 - £69.50

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7 p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

Apr 19th

The Little Mermaid Northern Ballet at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Alison Smith


David Nixon’s Little Mermaid – a reworking of Anderson’s fairy tale – is as atmospheric as it is absorbing. The underwater world is portrayed imaginatively by an aqueous set, resplendent with shimmering, weaving creatures in beautiful costumes, and undulating  waves in delicate shades of blues and greens . Most notable was the fluidity of the elder mermaids (Ailen Ramos Betancourt and Miki Akuta) held aloft by the male waves.

The little mermaid Marilla – a Celtic name echoing Sally Beamish’s Celtic musical touches –  was danced by Abigail Prudames who excelled in her role, both as a lithe rippling mermaid and a pained, physically and emotionally, two-legged creature. The weightless submarine world is contrasted with the heavier, dowdier appearance of humans. Again there are Celtic touches in the kilts and in the earthy colours of the costumes, drab shades of brown with the occasional red and pink.

 Prince Adair (Joseph Taylor) is the beloved of Marilla, but he falls in love with Dana (Dreda Blow), a human; Marilla, bereft returns to the sea. The duets between the prince and his beloved are joyful ; the couple are perfectly matched in precision and athleticism. The choreography of the duet between the prince and Marilla is doleful in comparison and transmits the sadness of Marilla. For this is a tale of unrequited love and of sacrifices made for love. It is not a happy-ever after tale.

The action is accompanied throughout by an eerie, folksy score played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia and ethereal  lighting – blue for undersea and yellow for land –  the filtering of  shafts of light into the sea was most effective.

This is a wonderful production. The story line brings with it many limitations for the choreography ; my one negative comment is the consequent  lack of vitality in the dancing – Lyr, Lord of the Sea ( Matthew Topliss) danced with verve and spirit,  but there was not enough of this . Beautiful and captivating as the ballet is, it is also somewhat soporific.


 The Little Mermaid is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday  21st April

 0844 871 7652

 Booking fee applies


Apr 17th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

By Kirstie Niland

Blackpool Grand Theatre

(Now showing at Bradford Alhambra until Saturday 21st April, on UK tour until May 19th)

I caught this classic gothic production at the end of its run in Blackpool, eager to see how the horror of Dr Jekyll’s nightly transformation into the evil Mr Hyde would stand up on stage.

I was not disappointed, for actor Phil Daniels’ portrayal of the two characters forming the dangerously split personality was as close to resembling a physical metamorphosis as you could get in the absence of special effects or time-consuming costume changes.

The Victorian, split level set provided a balcony for singer Rosie Abraham to permeate the proceedings with some eerie melodies. Beneath her, a periodic reversal of the set highlighted which of the physician's personalities we were about to encounter, as Daniels entered or exited his lounge or laboratory respectively. The darkness was lifted by flickering candles, but these were often dimmed, drawing us forward to see better, creating tension. 

Daniels’ use of a Scottish accent paid homage to the writer, Edinburgh’s own Robert Louis Stevenson, but this and the show have generated mixed reviews, particularly during a recent run in the author's home city. However I found his accent, along with the West Country twang of his lively maid Annie (Grace Hogg-Robinson) added a punch, and a rhythmical juxtaposition of harshness and light amidst an otherwise relentlessly terrifying plot. Their relationship was strangely more fascinating than Jekyll’s experiments with a potion that released a savage alter-ego. It culminated in an abused Annie’s psychoanalysis of the finally broken and suicidal man, whose childhood issues bred a monster ready to be unleashed as the evil Hyde.

Overall this production, by Touring Consortium Theatre Company, features a strong and talented cast which affords extra guts via more developed female characters. Whilst it isn't as scary as big budget productions, it does still inject the necessary chills – including a gut-wrenching, bone-crunching assault which successfully illustrates Jekyll’s surrender to Hyde's murderous urges.

UK tour dates are here.

The company’s next production is an exciting new adaptation of Dracula, again by David Edgar and directed by Kate Saxton, in association with Everyman Theatre Cheltenham. For this European Premiere, Bram Stoker’s book has been re-imagined in all its spine-chilling glory by a world-class creative team from London’s West End and Broadway.

Age Guidance; 16+

Everyman Theatre Cheltenham

Fri 28 September – Sat 6 October 2018

Box Office: 01242 572573

Photograph courtesy of Touring Consortium Theatre Company

Apr 17th

Writer Douglas Day Stewart talks about An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical on the eve of its national UK tour

By Clare Brotherwood

One of the highest grossing films of all time, ever since An Officer and a Gentleman hit our big screens in 1982, this multi-Oscar-winning movie has, says its creator Douglas Day Stewart, changed lives and, according to the US Navy, was the greatest thing that had ever happened to them. Now Day Stewart has written An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, which premiered at the Curve Leicester earlier this month and is now touring the UK. At a press conference at the Edinburgh Playhouse this week, he talked about the film, the musical and how Edinburgh is playing a part in their future.

Before he arrived at the press conference at the Edinburgh Playhouse, Douglas Day Stewart had been in his hotel room, finishing the final touches to the screenplay for a sequel to his original film of An Officer and a Gentleman. “It’s a bit of a secret,” he added. “I’ve been working on it for three years and I’ll be taking it to Warner Brothers in the next couple of weeks.”

At 78, Day Stewart shows no sign of letting up. He is as enthusiastic about An Officer and a Gentleman now as he was when he first wrote it back in the Eighties and it won three Oscars - for Best Supporting Actor (Louis Gossett Jr), Best Music and Best Original Song (Up Where We Belong, which also won a BAFTA).

“I’ve seen it about 100 times. I like it,” he laughed. “Once I start I can’t stop watching it.”

An Officer and a Gentleman tells the story of Zack Mayo who is training to become a US Navy pilot, has a tough time from his drill sergeant and falls in love with a local girl, and Day Stewart based the story on his own experiences in the US Navy. “I was an artist, an actor, and one day I was visiting my parents’ house still in make-up where I met an officer who told me we were about to go to war, though people didn’t really know anything about it yet. He said I could join the Army where I’d probably die on some muddy battlefield or join the Navy and live through the whole thing. I wanted to live so I went to Newport Rhode Island (Naval War College) for 12 weeks.”

Day Stewart went on to base ‘the officer and a gentleman’ on himself, though he ‘roughed him up a bit’ to make him more interesting. “I was in the military for three-and-a-half years and there is something about it you never get out of your blood. It’s a very unique experience and it made me a stronger person. Hollywood people are pretty tough but not as tough as a drill sergeant. That school was the toughest thing anyone could imagine and that’s what I tried to portray in the film.”

In order to keep it authentic, Day Stewart insisted on being one of the producers so he could ‘protect it all the way’. He hired military experts and had a big say in the casting.

John Travolta had starred in Day Stewart’s ‘highest rated TV film at the time’, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, so he was first choice, but when he chose not to do it the part went to Richard. “He is a consummate professional,” Day Stewart explained. “His Buddhist beliefs are very real. He does a lot for a lot of people. He is genuine, a real human being. For the film he taught himself to do the real martial arts. Everything he does he does with that dedication.

“Louis (the first African American to win an Oscar) is another man, like Richard Gere, who believes in things other than his own fame.”

But we are here to talk about An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, and Day Stewart says he’s excited and thrilled about it.

“It’s pleasing to me to see this story which is so personal being reincarnated. It’s not hard to maintain an enthusiasm for it. So many people’s lives have been touched by it. Time Magazine said we took the negativity of the military out of the Vietnam War and I am proud of this.

“It’s an experience. It’s not like anything you have seen. It’s not like any other kind of musical. It’s so uplifting and emotionally powerful. It will make people fall in love again and retake their vows. It is as much for young people as their parents. It’s a story the young generation needs.

“It’s not quite as raw as the movie. It is respectful that you are watching live entertainers, but we still maintain the raw edge of excitement, sensuality and action. It’s a roller coaster ride.”

As well as including the hit song from the film Up Where We Belong, it also features Eighties classics such as Don’t Cry Out Loud, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl.

The musical is directed by Nikolai Foster, artistic director at the Curve, who recently directed the West End productions of Annie and Calamity Jane and is, says Day Stewart, ‘going to emerge as one of the UK’s artistic lights’.

“He moves at the speed of light. Every scene moves into the next with such fluidity.”

He also has praise for choreographer Kate Price, ‘another great bright light in the UK’. “She’s fresh and she has a certain style which makes it fun, but the routines feel integral.”

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical will be touring the UK until September. Meanwhile, Day Stewart, whose past credits include the ground-breaking 1980 film Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, is enthusing about the sequel to the film.

“It’s a trailblazer. It’s about female empowerment. I’ve taken the daughter of Zack who wants to be a jet pilot, but who knows her dark secrets? And there’s also a gay love story in there.”

Future projects include ‘other deeply personal stuff’. “It seems the only way you can succeed in the film industry today is to get a comic book character, but stay with what you know. Don’t try to tailor yourself for the market,” he said.

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is at the Edinburgh Playhouse from July 2-7  0844 871 3014

Until April 21: Curve Leicester

April 24-28: Leeds Grand Theatre

May 1-5: Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

May 7-12: Wycombe Swan

May 15-19: Birmingham Hippodrome

May 21-26: Liverpool Empire

May 28-June 2: Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin

June 4-9: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

June 18-23: Theatre Royal Newcastle

June 25-30: Wales Millennium Centre

July 9-14: Milton Keynes Theatre

July 23-28: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

July 30-Aug 4: Bristol Hippodrome

Aug 6-11: the Marlow Theatre, Canterbury

Aug 13-18: Manchester Opera House

Aug 20-25: Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Aug 27- Sept 1: Regent Theatre, Ipswich

Sept 3-8: The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Sept 10-15: Glasgow King’s Theatre


Apr 11th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

I felt an air of excitement as I made my way to the King’s Theatre, knowing that the original version of its latest production was written by Edinburgher Robert Louis Stevenson, who is said to have based his story on Deacon Brodie, by day a respected businessman and councillor, but by night a housebreaker - and who lived not a mile from the theatre.

That excitement never left me. Adaptor David Edgar, famous for his award-winning reworking of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company, has teamed up with Jenny KIng’s Touring Consortium Theatre Company, Olivier Winner for Best Entertainment for its production of The Railways Children at the Waterloo Station Theatre, for this latest version of the classic Gothic horror.

And good, all-round entertainment it is.

Simon Higlett’s two-tiered set depicts, on the upper level, a foggy London street, while below, despite modest props, various scenes change seamlessly and effectively to provide an atmospheric backdrop, helped enormously by Richard Hammarton’s chilling music and sound effects and Mark Jonathan’s creepy lighting.

But Edgar’s version of this dark tale has an unexpected lighter side. He introduces to the story a sister for Jekyll, a fun-loving mother of two played with much warmth and humour by Polly Frame, while Phil Daniels, playing both title roles, becomes an almost Vaudevillian villain as Mr Hyde, mostly making us laugh more than shrink back in horror - although a couple of scenes are frighteningly graphic and had me worrying for the lives of the actors involved! It was also amusing to hear Daniels sporting a soft Edinburgh accent as Dr Jekyll while as Mr Hyde he is the epitomy of a Glaswegian drunk, and sounding not unlike Billy Connolly. It’s a brave act indeed for a Londoner to play Scots in Scotland, and I wonder, had he been playing these roles in Glasgow, if he’d have given Hyde the Edinburgh accent!

Adding to the more chilling aspect is Rosie Abraham who not only plays Jekyll’s niece and a maid but will remain in my memory as ‘the singer’, an enigmatic figure who bridges the scenes and whose plaintive strains sent shivers down my spine. Grace Hogg-Robinson, as Annie, also gives an emotion-driven performance, in contrast to Sam Cox as Poole, every inch the restrained butler.

As I said, this is good, all-round entertainment with some nice little touches from director Kate Saxon.


King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Tues 10 – Sat 14 April 2018

Box Office

0131 529 6000

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Tues 17 – Saturday 21 April 2018

Box Office

01274 432000

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tues 1 – Saturday 5 May 2018

Box Office

01902 429 212

Cambridge Arts Theatre

Tues 8 – Sat 12 May 2018

Box Office

01223 503 333

Darlington Hippodrome

Tues 15 – Saturday 19 May 2018

Box Office


01325 405 405


Apr 11th

Cilla The Musical @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Cilla - The Musical Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

When Jeff Pope’s iconic TV series, Cilla, aired in September 2014 featuring an incredible performance from Sheridan Smith, no-one could have predicted that within a year Cilla Black would sadly be dead.  Initially she was very nervous about her life story and romance with Bobby Willis (who became her husband and manager), being portrayed in a TV series.  Once she read the script though, she felt reassured and once she saw the TV show she was thrilled.

Cilla was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in 1943, but when she signed a recording contract with Brian Epstein in 1963, he changed her name to Cilla Black.  When Cilla sang with her friends, The Beatles, Brian came along but a poor choice of song meant he left early and Cilla almost gave up. Fate was on her side though, as he heard her singing again and this time the rock song delivered and he signed her up.  The first recording failed to make a mark, but once they’d selected the right song ‘Anyone Who Has A Heart’ hit the number one slot in 1964, Cilla’s career was assured.

Adapting his TV series for the stage musical, Jeff Pope has concentrated on these early years up until the launch of Cilla’s own TV series for the BBC in 1967, which ran until 1976.

Fellow Liverpudlian Bill Kenwright, seized the opportunity to turn the successful TV mini-series into a stage show and Cilla the Musical opened in September 2017 at the Liverpool Empire and has been touring ever since. Giving a fantastic performance as Cilla is Buckinghamshire lass Kara Lily Hayworth.  She nails the accent, humour and character of one of the UK’s best-loved personalities.  Kara’s voice is stunning and she commands the stage with her presence and has the same star quality as Cilla, so expect to see and hear a lot more of her over the coming years.

Carl Au plays Bobby Willis, the totally besotted man who becomes indispensible to Cilla and gives up his own career potential to take care of her. Andrew Lancel is the manager, Brian Epstein, who adores Cilla but has a self-destruct button that can’t be switched off.  Neil MacDonald (as Cilla’s dad John White) has brilliant comic timing and is a joy to watch.

Supported by a talented cast of musicians, dancers and singers, this really is a fabulous night’s entertainment.  The costumes were stunning, particularly the long glittery dresses designed to maximise Cilla’s famous red hair.

The Waterside Theatre has a special connection with Cilla, as she opened the theatre in October 2010.  She went on to appear in Cinderella and I’ll never forget her entrance flying in wearing a long gold sequined dress with a long train...amazing!

Cilla’s memory and the legacy of her work will never be forgotten and she will always be fondly remembered by her adoring public.  This is a wonderful tribute and everyone was on their feet at the end singing and dancing along.  Adding in an extra song (which I didn’t know) after that made everyone sit down and I wasn’t sure that it actually added anything to the show, but that was only my observation and it’s a great night out!

The show runs at The Waterside to Saturday 14th April and from 17th-21st April at Norwich Theatre Royal.  Further tour dates will be available later this year.

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye