By David Pearce | Photo Courtesy The Cher Show
“You Better Sit Down Kids” because “The Beat Goes On” in a new Broadway sensation, “The Cher Show“, which opens on Broadway December 3rd and starts previews on November 1st after a successful pre-Broadway run at the Ford Oriental Theatre in Chicago. This musical based on the life of the one true diva, Cher, will have you singing along for days after seeing this sequined filled production.
Cher has been a driving force for me since I was a young gayby coming out in Nashville. I vividly remember many nights spent away on the dance floor of the nowclosed The Connection, moving to the rhythmic pulse of her music as the strobe lights and lasers filled the air around me. Her music was a draw for many of us to rush the dance floor, throw our hands in the air, and get lost in the melodic sounds of her voice. Later, I would find myself mesmerized at her videos as I sat in Tribe.
I would lose myself in the intricacy of her costumes, choreography and again her amazing voice. And finally, I would lose many a quarter pumping them into a jukebox to play “Dark Lady” just so we could all slam our ashtrays down on the bar in the double percussion sync of the claps of the song. So when I first heard that Cher was penning a Broadway show about her life, I knew my theater-loving heart was going to have to make a trip to see this production and I was not disappointed.
This was the first time I was able to see a production in a pre-Broadway run. For those of you not familiar with this process, it is when a show first tries out their program before going to Broadway. It’s an opportunity to work out any problems and gauge audience reactions. After seeing this show, I guarantee several Tony nominations will be forthcoming next summer for the cast and crew of “The Cher Show”.
One of the first thoughts I had was “how in the world are they going to find an actress who can encompass all that Cher is?” The simple answer, they couldn’t. In fact, “The Cher Show” has three actresses portraying the icon: Micaela Diamond plays the young Cher known as Babe, Teal Wicks plays Cher as she is first starting out her solo career and is known as Lady, and finally Stephanie J. Block plays the Cher as we know her todayand is known as Star. These three ladies combined bring the house down eight shows a week as they fully embody the greatness of Cher. I will admit it did take a few minutes to understand the triad and their roles in the show as neither the Playbill nor the Opening did a great job of explaining how the three worked together to make up one person, but as the story unfolds, it all makes sense.
The cast is rounded out by Jarrod Spector who plays the iconic Sonny Bono, Michael Berresee as the iconic Bob Mackie, a must in any show about Cher, Michael Campayno as Rob Camilletti, Matthew Hydzik as Gregg Allman and finally, Emily Skinner as Cher’s mom Georgia Holt. Out of these, I was completely shocked by Spector’s performance of Sonny. I had previously seen him as the lead in Jersey Boys so I knew he had the chops for the high tenor that it takes to play Sonny, but he completely nailed the quirkiness and attitude of the character as well.
I have long been a fan of Cher and her music. I have drooled over her wardrobe, and have shouted AMEN to some of her political tweets and comments. However, I will honestly admit I never really knew much about what made Cher, well, Cher. This show takes a deep dive into her life and shows you the pain, sorrows, joys, struggles, and triumphs that Cherilyn Sarkisian has faced over her seven-decade life to make her who she is today. It gives you glimpses as to the meaning behind songs such as “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me,” “ We All Sleep Alone,” “Strong Enough,” and all 38, yes 38 songs in the show.
This show is not just an auditory pleasure, it is also a visual delight. Bob Mackie himself is the costume designer for the show and has recreated all of Cher’s iconic costumes for this production. At one point during the show, there is a parade of Cher’s red carpet outfits which brings the audience to their feet in a thunderous round of applause. There are more sequins in this production than Dolly Parton’s entire wardrobe combined. You will also find yourself mesmerized by Stephanie J. Block and her portrayal of Cher. There were many times throughout the show I had to stop and focus as I could have sworn she walked off stage and the real Cher took her place. Block completely transforms herself into Cher with voice, stature, mannerisms, and attitude. She truly is “Strong Enough” and I “Believe.”
So Chickadees, I highly encourage you, if you are a fan of Cher, sequins, or nostalgia of your youth, plan a trip to NYC this winter and check out “The Cher Show” when it opens on Broadway. No matter if you are a gypsy, tramp, or thief you will love this show. If I could, I would “Turn Back Time” just to see it again, but as it is, I will definitely see the final product once it opens on Broadway. More information about the show including tickets can be found at www.thechershowbroadway.com.