Robert Willis revealed on Thursday (02Mar17) that producers will be holding open auditions in a bid to discover the perfect person to play British icon Cilla in a musical opening in her home city Liverpool, England, later this year (17).

"We are holding a series of open auditions around the whole country to find our Cilla - she's out there, so we've got to find her. She's got to be able to act and obviously sing," he said in an interview with British daytime TV show This Morning.

Cilla rose to fame at the same time as The Beatles as part of the 1960s Liverpool music scene, going on to national stardom and then enjoying a stellar career as a beloved TV entertainer.

She passed away aged 72 in August 2015 after a fall in Spain led to a fatal stroke.

Work on the musical began while Cilla was still alive, after the success of a 2014 TV mini-series charting her rise to fame with hits like Alfie and Anyone Who Had a Heart.

British TV and theatre actress Sheridan Smith played flame haired star in the show, but will not be reprising the role in the new musical.

Robert, who acted as his mother's manager during her lifetime said that he had considered scrapping plans for the musical, produced by theatre impresario Bill Kenwright, but eventually decided that the show must go on.

"We started this journey with her, and because everything changed obviously after she died, and we had to make the decision whether we went ahead with this or do we not do it," he explained. "But I think for a number of reasons, partly because the script is so good, partly because she wanted it to happen, and I guess for me - maybe it's selfish - but I miss her you know? And this kind of connects me to her. And we all want to do it for her."

Cilla - The Musical will open at Liverpool's Empire theatre on 7 September before going on a tour of the U.K.