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Cilla and the Shades of the 60s review at Towngate Theatre, Basildon – ‘upbeat, but slight’

Victoria Jones in Cilla and the Shades of the 60s at Towngate Theatre, Basildon
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Liverpool’s very own Cinderella, Cilla Black came from a working-class background but went on to become a major British singing star, before forging a career in light-entertainment that lasted until her death in 2015. Cilla and the Shades of the 60s is essentially the opening out of Victoria Jones’ celebrated tribute act to include a selection of songs from several other artists of the era.

The Shades of the 60s is actually the name of a three-piece girl band, who deliver a series of up-beat numbers designed to get the audience on their feet and clapping along. They are a persuasive trio who belt out some great harmonies with genuinely engaging personalities but the attempt to create an illusion gets muddled along the way.

The choreography is deeply predictable, the video footage fragmented and the use of the fake hand-held mics is a hit-or-miss affair. The Shades provide a decent sound but there’s more enthusiasm than polish to the act.

Thankfully Jones is worth the wait for her physical and vocal impersonation of Cilla. Opening on such a high as Anyone Who Had a Heart is a risk, but it’s followed up with accomplished renditions of Alfie, Step Inside Love and a feisty Heart and Soul. The material runs out very quickly however and the second act is bolstered with a facsimile of the Blind Date format that introduced the artist to a whole new generation.

This concert is good-hearted fun but would benefit from some more gregarious choreography and tighter direction.

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Upbeat but slight show built around an amiable Cilla Black tribute act