“I had red hair and was about the same height as her,” says actress Kara Lily Hayworth on her reasons for applying for the role of Cilla Black in the musical Cilla.
And she must have done something right as the actress landed the role from 2,000 hopefuls who turned up for an open audition in London after queuing more than four hours to be seen,
She then had to go through eight rounds of auditions culminating in a final audition at the famous Cavern Club where Cilla also got her big break.
“It was just incredible to perform at the Cavern Club where Cilla got her big break in front of an audience. I was nervous but it was such an amazing thing to do,” says the 29-year-old actress.
As if that wasn’t nerve-racking enough, Cilla the Musical also opened in Black’s home town of Liverpool, quite an ordeal for the actress from Buckinghamshire.
“I was nervous any way going being opening night, but playing Cilla in Liverpool, when I am not from the city made it even worse.
“I just didn’t know how I would go down.”
Kara needn’t have worried. Cilla had rave reviews and opens at the Grand Opera House, York next week.
“I did an awful lot of research and watched endless videos of Cilla, but I didn’t want to mimic her,” she says.
Cilla’s son Robert Willis is one of the producers and he was keen to find an actress the audience would fall in love with rather than a sound-alike or lookalike.
Cilla the Musical is Kara’s first big break although it is eight years since she left drama school.
“I was always into singing and dancing when I was young, I never wanted to do anything else.
“When I was ten I went to an open audition for the UK tour of Annie the Musical with Paul O’Grady.
“I landed the role of Annie and thought auditions were great, but the reality is very different,” says Kara.
Her parents were keen that she get some qualifications before applying to drama school so she did her GCSEs and A-Levels.
“I didn’t even get into drama school first time and took a year off and worked in a cafe,” she recalls. “Then I got in the Central School of Speech and Drama.”
“I have done quite a few things since graduating but this is by far the biggest.
“You do have to get a thick skin quite quickly in this business.
“But you also have to remember that getting a knock back more than likely has nothing to do with your ability, it is more likely that your face didn’t fit or you aren’t quite what they had in mind for the part.”
Cilla the Musical tours until May and the cast, including Kara are hopeful that it will then move to the West End.
“There has been a lot of talk about it and I really hope it does go to the West End, but for now I am just enjoying playing Cilla and will worry about what comes next in May, that is just the nature of the job.”
CILLA – THE MUSICAL is the spectacular and heart-warming musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed hit ITV television series by Bafta-Award winner Jeff Pope.
The musical score is the ultimate soundtrack to the 60s including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie and Something Tells Me,.
Cilla the Muscial will be at York, Grand Opera House from 23 – 27 January .
For tickets visit atgtickets.com/york or call 0844 871 3024