You’re My World: The Cilla Black Story | Downstairs at the Maj | ★ ★ ★ ½
Go on then, spend an hour with WAAPA graduate Danielle O’Malley’s impersonation of the lovable British pop icon, Cilla Black.
I hadn’t heard of Cilla before seeing the show, but I became a fan by the end of it. It turns out I’d heard many of her songs before, and my grandparents told me they used to watch her TV shows regularly. She rose to fame in the early ’60s and continued an impressive career in showbiz for over 50 years. In my post-performance googling, I learnt that I wasn’t alone in this unfamiliarity.
The writer and star of the show, Danielle O’Malley, only discovered her a few years ago despite having “a swag of Black’s songs in her repertoire and even teaching them to her music students”.
After hearing of Cilla’s death in 2015, she looked her up and became hooked by the singer’s energy and style, Soon enough she was writing You’re My World, a biographical cabaret full of powerhouse vocals and the self-deprecating humour that endeared Black to fans across the world.
Watching videos of the real Cilla after the show was impressive, as O’Malley’s impersonation is spot-on. She’s completely in character for the hour, nailing the cute Liverpudlian accent and breaking up the music with well-chosen, well-written anecdotes from the height of Cilla’s fame as she flirts and chats with the audience.
What made the show for me was her charming chemistry with the band, pianist Justin Martins, bass player Wayan Bilionpdana and percussionist Jake Isard. We’re treated to 11 classic Cilla songs, my favourites were Liverpool Lullaby and Anyone Who Had A Heart.
The warmest moment of the show was thanks to the audience, mostly oldies who were no doubt familiar with the material, eagerly joining in with ‘Love, Sweet Love’ during ‘What the World Needs Now’.
A lovely trip back to a time I never knew I missed, in a show with appeal for old and new Cilla Black fans.
This show has ended its Fringe World run but for more information on You’re My World: The Cilla Black Story, head to fringeworld.com.au