The Cher Show

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The Cher Show

Neil Simon Theatre, NYC, January 10, 2019

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

She goes by one name, has been known as “The Goddess of Pop” for over a half-century, has released 47 albums, has starred in a TV show with the first of two husbands, has won an Academy Award for acting (Moonstruck), and has appeared on Broadway (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean). She has suffered career lags and physical exhaustion only to strive for the next peak and then the next. She has adapted a lifetime of spectacular new looks, showcasing the most outlandish body-hugging, skimpy, sparkling costumes, and has spoken her mind on provocative issues. This is Cher, an intriguing American icon who is the subject of a glittery, flashy, musical-bio on Broadway.

The pop legend is presented by a trio. Micaela Diamond plays ingénue, Babe, speaking and singing with the Cher sob in her voice, hinting of Cher’s early sound. Teal Wicks portrays Lady with a more mature vocal sound, the independent television/Las Vegas/film personality, who learns what snappy comebacks, skimpy sparkles, and soaring headdresses can do for her. The summation of all three is Star, the icon, played by Stephanie J. Block. Block, with her throaty contralto, ties it all together, always checking back to chat with her younger versions. Taking their hands, she explains, “‘Cause when I fall on this bad-ass, I’m going to need a sweetheart to feel better and a smart-mouth to pick me up.” (This trio version was tried recently with The Donna Summer Musical less successfully.)

Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt (Emily Skinner), a former model, was a blonde beauty who was ready with supportive confidence for her black-haired, olive-skinned daughter, born Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere. Skinner appeared later as Lucille Ball in a skit with Cher.

Written by Rick Elice (The Jersey Boys), The Cher Show, is a jukebox musical, directed by Jason Moore, that presents the superstar with dry humor, robust belt, and insistent ambition, always in battle with her insecurities. While all three singers possess hints of Cher’s signature potent voice, it is Block as Star who is the standout here. She sounds remarkably like Cher and moves with the Star’s arrogant stride in the multiple elaborate costume changes, designed by Bob Mackie and played here by Michael Berresse.

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The men in her life were Sonny Bono (Jarrod Spector), who saw and developed the promise of Cher but cheated her of the money the fabulously successful duo made in the 1960s-1970s. They shared a complicated life, but Cher acknowledged his significance in steering her to fame. Gregg Allman (Matthew Hydzik), her second husband and father of their son, Isaiah, loved her but his drug and alcohol-driven abusive nature killed their marriage. To escape her multiple segments of personal and professional failures, Cher turned to singing and another road show. She never had enough time with her children (Chaz and Isaiah, whom we never see), and she always needed money, love, and, most of all, fame.

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Director Moore stages the show chronologically hitting the important timelines without any real depth. Christopher Gatelli provides muscular, athletic dancing, the standout being a theatrical tango, “Dark Lady,” eith the “Cher” dancer being Ashley Blair Fitzgerald. For splash, sparkle, and the sensational Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show is a good-time jukebox musical.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.