5 Reasons Why The Cher Show Shines
By: Iris Wiener
January 24, 2019: In an industry that now boasts jukebox musicals on a regular basis, how is The Cher Show different from the rest of the pack? Though it does feature many of the same tired tropes as Summer, On Your Feet! and Beautiful (to name only a few), it does own its place in the current offerings on Broadway. Though its structure is quite predictable while dodging many of the more controversial aspects of her life, The Cher Show still manages to be its own experience. Here are five reasons it’s worth it to check out the musical and turn back time:
1. Cher’s story. No matter how you look at it, her career was unique, paving the way for singers to be multifaceted entertainers. Her work affected every aspect of the business, from fashion to performance genres and branding. She made no apologies for her feminist beliefs, one of many attributes that were integral to her success. Though her life was rife with controversy (and not enough of it made it into Rick Elice’s book), the show demonstrates her tenacity in the face of adversity and the highs and lows of her ever-changing career, a story that remains relevant and important today.
2. The costumes. Bob Mackie created many of Cher’s incredible, skin-baring outfits throughout their careers, and their partnership lives on with The Cher Show. With hundreds of costumes, thousands of sequins and countless sparkles, Mackie brought many of his iconic looks back to life, in addition to creating new pieces for the musical (yes- there is even an actual fashion show within the “fashion show”). Mackie’s influence and collaboration with the star was so integral to her fame that he is even a character in the show (played wonderfully by Michael Berresse).
3. The ensemble. The Cher Show features some of the hardest working dancers in the business, between unimaginably fine-tuned quick changes and Christopher Gatelli’s intricate choreography. In “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and “Dark Lady” the sultry intensity they exhibit is unforgettable (Ashley Blair Fitzgerald’s sequence is a standout). In all fairness, there is magic happening any time the talented group is on stage, thanks to Gatelli and the direction of Jason Moore.
4. The Chers. Stephanie J. Block disappears into the mind, body and spirit of “Star,” the eldest of three versions of Cher. From her first seconds on stage she invites her audience to learn how a shy girl ended up surrounded by so many people. Her mannerisms, drawl and voice are uncanny, and the nuances with which she simultaneously shows fear and forgiveness should secure her a Tony nod. Micaela Diamond’s “Babe” and Teal Wicks’ “Lady” are sensational to behold as well. Diamond’s “And the Beat Goes On” is hypnotizing, due in part to Daryl Waters’ exceptional arrangement and orchestration. When Lady takes on Cher’s variety show, her ease and sense of humor are distinct and natural, while her “Strong Enough” is much more powerful than its title entails. (P.S. Jarrod Spector has Sonny Bono’s nasal twang down pat, a phenomenal performance by all accounts.)
5. The hits. Let’s face it; if you are going to see this show, you are already a fan. In that sense, you will not be disappointed. With over thirty hits ranging from “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “I Found Someone” to “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” and “Believe,” the musical includes songs for fans who came to find Cher at all stages of her career. There is a camaraderie at The Cher Show that is palpable and special, so despite there being a “Song for the Lonely,” these songs would make anyone feel at home.
The Cher Show
Neil Simon Theater
250 W. 52nd St., NYC.
Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 8pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm.
Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including intermission. www.ticketmaster.com.
Photography: Joan Marcus