Karen Koren: Kara brings out the best in Cilla

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Ilove musical theatre. My favourite musical of recent times has been Sunny Afternoon, all about the Kinks.

Cilla is the latest biographical musical to come to Edinburgh at the Playhouse this week. I bought my tickets the moment I saw it advertised. I am going tonight and am very much looking forward to seeing it.

The show is an adaptation of Jeff Pope’s BAFTA Award-winning 2014 TV series Cilla performed by the amazing Sheridan Smith, who sang Alfie better than Cilla Black did back in the day.

A tough enough act to follow in Cilla’s footsteps, but to also follow on from Sheridan is not an easy task. It will be interesting to see therefore if Kara Lily Hayworth, who plays Cilla in this musical version, can step up to the plate.

Kara was discovered by open audition for the role and queued up for four hours before being seen, which demonstrates a determination to succeed, as Cilla did back in the 1960s.

Having been in my youth in the 60s, its great to hear all the songs of those times again and get the flavour of the era. The executive producer is Robert Willis, Cilla Black’s son and is directed by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson.

The reviews I have seen so far have been really good saying, “By the second act it’s hard to believe you’re not actually watching the young Cilla” and “Hayworth sings her heart out, catching perfectly the bluesy belter within the girl next door”.

Cilla had its premier in Liverpool and we are very lucky that a musical of such quality is in Edinburgh and touring around the regions before it goes on to the West End. Which I am sure it will.

The Rose Theatre in the West End of Rose Street, which the Gilded Balloon started this Fringe, presented a lot of musical theatre and the venue lends itself to that medium.

As we speak we are planning a Christmas programme which will bring small scale musical theatre to Edinburgh. We will be announcing the programme in a few weeks and hope that we get as many coming to the shows as we did during the Festival.

And perhaps we can present some future award winning musicals too!