Anyone who has a heart is going to love this biographical cabaret about English singer Cilla Black. Whether you’re a devoted fan or just recognise a few of her tunes, you are sure to be thoroughly entertained by this show, written and performed by Melbourne based musical theatre actress Danielle O’Malley.
Suitably performed at the intimate venue, Downstairs at the Maj, it was not hard to visualise a night at The Cavern Club, where Cilla Black performed along with her friends the Beatles. O’Malley engaged her audience, chatting to them with her strong “Liverpudlian” accent and making eye contact throughout the performance. She was convincing in her portrayal of Black and maintained her character throughout the one-hour show.
Through short addresses to the audience between songs O’Malley told us Black’s life story. She spoke about her humble beginnings, her family were not flush with cash, but from a very young age she was exposed to music and shared her mother’s talent for singing. By the time she was a teenager she was singing in clubs and became friends with members of the Beatles, before they rose to stardom. She described their efforts to get her talents recognised and how they introduced her to their manager, Brian Epstein, who later signed her.
O’Malley cleverly hinted at Brian Epstein’s homosexuality when she described him as a wonderful man, who didn’t quite fit in. She then launched into a rendition of Sing A Rainbow – a rainbow became the symbol of gay pride in 1976 (after the song was written). Epstein’s sexual orientation was not publically known for some years after his death, but it was an open secret among his friends and business associates.
She covered other highlights of her life including her marriage to Bobby Willis and singing for the Queen at the Palladiam.
O’Malley also captured Black’s sense of humour talking abut how Dion Warwick – who originally sung “Anyone Who Had A Heart” written by Burt Bacharach – had nothing good to say about Black who covered the song a month later and took it to number one in the UK in 1964. Bacharach also approached her to sing "Alfie" and famously confronted her when he heard she didn’t like the title of his song – her retort was that she’d heard his first choice to sing the song was Shirley Bassey, and so she declared them even.
O’Malley has a strong and powerful voice making her the perfect person to deliver Black’s hit songs including "Anyone Who Had a Heart", "Sing A Rainbow, Alfie", "You’re My World" and "What The World Needs Now".
I enjoyed the way O’Malley got the audience involved with the performance, telling them they’d been “lazy up til now” and that it was time they did some work. She got the audience to visualise the small, smelly, Cavern Club and to cheer her on as she took her place on the stage. She gave a heart-warming rendition of "What the World Needs Now" – passing the microphone to the audience to sing the lyrics, love, sweet, love.
The audience needed little encouragement and it was wonderful to hear the audience singing and humming quietly along with most of the songs.
O’Malley was supported by Justin Martins (piano), Wayan Biliondana (bass) and Jake Isard (percussion). She finished her performance with greatly anticipated “You’re My World” and then provided an encore of her cover of “Ol’ Man River.”
You’re My World – The Cilla Black Story is an entertaining and enjoyable night of cabaret.
ACE’S Cabaret Downstairs at The Maj
You're My World – The Story of Cilla Black
Written and performed by Danielle O'Malley
Venue: Downstairs at The Maj | 825 Hay St, Perth WA
Dates: 7 – 11 February 2017
Tickets: from $30
Bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au | 08 9227 6288