After much anticipation, the brand new musical based on the life and career of Grammy and Oscar-winning pop icon Cher has officially opened on Broadway on December 3, 2018! Performances began at the Neil Simon Theatre on November 1 following the world premiere pre-Broadway engagement at Chicago's Oriental Theatre from June 12 to July 15, 2018.
Directed by Tony Award nominee Jason Moore ("Avenue Q") and featuring a book by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice ("Jersey Boys"), the musical is jam-packed with Cher's back catelogue of greatest hits, which span multiple decades and include the likes of “I Got You Babe,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “If I Could Turn Back Time,” and “Believe”.
To play an icon like Cher, the creative team have drafted not one, not two, but three fabulously talented ladies to portray the pop diva in various stages of her career. All three are nicknamed to mark their point of the journey with the youngest version (originated by Micaela Diamond) going by the name of 'Babe' who then passes the torch to 'Lady' (Teal Wicks) and finally we have the perhaps career-defining portrayal by one Stephanie J. Block. Appropriately her version of Cher is nicknamed 'Star' and for good reason. Just like the real thing, Ms. Block is exuding star quality from her very first entrance (surrounded by sailors and wearing a very recognizable black outfit) right through to the curtain call. She truly is a Star... Somebody hand this woman a Tony Award!
Indeed, all three leading actresses have mastered the unmistakable contralto vocals, nonchalant charisma, mannerisms and determined spirit of Cher, as they guide us through her life story, constantly breaking the fourth wall, as well as interacting with each other in a reflective and almost therapeutic fashion. The score is divided amongst them to appropriately accentuate key moments in Cher's story, with emphasis on utilising songs to further the narrative (as if written entirely anew for the purpose of the musical) or give us some emotional insight, rather than strictly sticking to the chronological order of when each hit was released.
There's also some solid back-up from the various contributors and supporting players, led by Sonny Bono (originated by Jarrod Spector), amusingly high-pitched and a three-dimensional character, who more than deserves his generous chapters in the musical, as well as her mother, Georgia Holt (Emily Skinner), second husband and rock-musician Gregg Allman (Matthew Hydzik) and longtime collaborator and costume designer extraordinaire Bob Mackie (Michael Berresse). In fact, in a creative coup, the latter also serves as the costume designer for The Cher Show and the Bob Mackie sequence, showcasing his most imaginitively wild Cher creations, is perhaps the most fabulously camp and outrageously extravagant sequence on Broadway today.
Through her trials and tribulations, her rises and falls in the industry and her determination to break free from the shackles of being a commodity in a male-dominated world to taking control of her own destiny, there is plenty of fodder for a bio-musical. Even those who might not consider themselves Cher aficionados are sure to find The Cher Show appealing in one way or another. And for the hardcore fans, you will be left wanting to turn back time again and again to experience anew your first trip to this glittering and sensational musical.
Nothing left to say but... Let's do this, bitches!
(Photos by Joan Marcus)