Review | What the world needs now is more Cilla Black

You’re My World: The Cilla Black Story | Downstairs at the Maj | til Nov 3 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

You can’t help feeling a little smug when you’re holding tickets to a show that has the words “Sold Out” plastered on the entrance door poster.

There are few places in Perth as deliciously intimate as Downstairs at The Maj and I instantly regretted having had a bite before when Charcuterie boards and cheese temptations danced by me. But as the lights dimmed and a vision of blinding sequined splendour appeared from behind a curtain, I sat back to feast on You’re My World: The Cilla Black Story.

Ask me who UK’s most beloved performers are I’d tell you The Beatles and Freddie Mercury. I had NO idea who Cilla Black was or that she’s part of the cherished treasures of English music, but I do adore a good Cabaret and had the smarts to bring along my partner-in-crime with a love for anything British. From the very first Liverpudlian tones and powerhouse notes of Danielle O’Malley, I was assured by my “expert” that she sounds “just like her”.

If you think you’re a Cilla ignoramus like me, wait until you hear some of her most memorable songs written by no other than best buds The Beatles, or UK top hits from the 60s like Anyone Who Had a Heart and Alfie. It won’t be difficult to understand how this woman became an icon.

Long-term friendships with John, Paul, George and Ringo are explored through a sentimental Beatles medley and plenty of hilarious little anecdotes peppered with jabs at arch-nemesis Dionne Warwick; O’Malley takes us seamlessly from song to fascinating true life tales. You can’t help but instantly fall in-love with the self-deprecating character of Ms Black.

In another corner of the room was a second one-woman show who clearly and proudly knew all the words before the main act herself (there’s always one). But how can you get mad when it came from such obvious blissful joy!

And that’s exactly what this room was filled with from a touching 50th Wedding Anniversary announcement to the wonderful and surprisingly well-sung audience participation of What the World Needs Now. It was warm fuzzies all around.

There were a few glistening-eye moments with the most memorable being Cilla’s Sing a Rainbow. Cross my heart, I thought it was a Play School song! Flinging me back to my childhood, it was sung as a tribute to legendary music manager Brian Epstein and highlighted a different poignant meaning that will forever remain with me – the plight of homosexuals in the 60s and the acceptance of those different to ourselves.

All I can say is you are in for a foot-tapping enchanted evening!

You’re My World: The Cilla Black Story will be Downstairs at the Maj until Saturday November 3. Tickets and more info available from Perth Theatre Trust.

Evelyne Tymms

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