NEW YORK - The new Broadway musical, “The Cher Show,” could be subtitled “Resilience.” No matter how you feel about the talents of the pop icon Cher, this show indicates the woman has recreated herself time and again – always with great success.
Indeed, a positive aspect of the production is the talent that shows why Cher has remained such a beloved entertainer. Cher is played by three extremely gifted women. It’s a device that is also used in “Summer,” the story of Donna Summer that opened early this year and is effective in showing the star at different stages of her career.
The central Cher, called Star, is the mature reflective woman who looks back at her life and career. Stephanie J. Block is engaging, personable and charming as the secure and confident woman. She is the anchor of the show and makes it easy to root for the other two versions of the star.
As Babe, the young hippie version of Cher, Micaela Diamond is cute, perky and loaded with talent. It is she who came to fame in the Sonny and Cher years and who suffered betrayal at the hands of her husband and partner.
As Lady, Teal Wicks is the transitional Cher. She goes from submissive young girl to self-aware woman who takes charge of her life. Her role defines the message in the work – which asks how does an insecure young female evolve to become a strong and assertive force at a time when such behavior was unique in a male-dominated society?
While focusing on Cher’s career, the show is two and a half hours of pleasant familiar music that is well-sung and expertly performed. It is attractively presented and is packaged with a positive message.
However, the question that begs to be asked is – recognizing a career that covers six decades of highs and lows, enough to hold together a Broadway show?
I suppose that depends on how much you enjoy Cher’s music and admire her life. But for me, I don’t think so.
Cher’s story is just too familiar to generate interest beyond the superficial. The biography is so sanitized in the portrayal of the star and all others in her life (that except for Sonny Bono, everyone is without flaw. This leaves no room for redemption. This is a tale that, though factual, seems invented – or, more accurately - reinvented. Even Sonny returns from the dead to be forgiven by Cher.
Whenever there isn’t a familiar Sonny and Cher hit song or one of Cher’s solo numbers performed, the show sags. Without question, though Cher had an exciting career, her personal life just isn’t any more interesting than any other insecure narcissist who has made a number of questionable personal choices.
But, if juke box musicals are your thing, the entertainment aspects of “The Cher Show” are fun. The score - which includes the legendary hits “I Got You Babe,” “Gypsy, Tramps and Thieves,” and “Believe,” - is so familiar the audience hums along.
The opening number, “Turn Back Time” has the audience clapping before the central characters are even introduced. As if they needed introduction. The list of includes – of course, Sonny Bono (who is played to perfection by Jarrod Spector) and Greg Allman. Also making cameos are the record producer Phil Spector, film and stage director Robert Altman and costume designer Bob Mackie.
Not so incidentally, Mackie designed the costumes for this production and though most are recreations of those he created for Cher in her heyday, they are spectacular. It says much about the substance of the story of “The Cher Show” that a pageant-style fashion presentation of all the feathery, glamorous and skimpy costumes is a show-stopping highlight of the show.
There are many things to appreciate in The Cher Show, but little to hold onto an hour after the curtain falls. As stated, your enjoyment of the show is directly related to the appeal one has for Cher as a performer. But who doesn’t love Cher?
“The Cher Show” is at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52ndStreet, New York City for an open run.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.