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Meet The Tony Winners: Bob Mackie of ‘The Cher Show’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Cher's beloved designer brings us behind the scenes of 'The Cher Show'

Legendary fashion and costume designer Bob Mackie recently won his first Tony Award for The Cher Show. Mackie, who has won nine Emmys and was nominated for three Oscars, has collaborated with Cher for 50 years. A much-coveted designer he has also worked with Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Elton John, Ann-Margret, Bernadette Peters, Mitzi Gaynor, Carol Burnett, Bette Midler and Pink. Mackie has designed costumes on Broadway for Moon Over Buffalo and Putting It Together starring Carol Burnett, Best Little Whorehouse Goes PublicMinnelli on MinnelliLorelei and On the TownThe Cher Show spotlights six decades of Cher’s life, and features hundreds of Mackie’s spectacular creations. The show stars Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks and Micaela Diamond in the role of Cher at various times in her life, Jarrod Spector as Sonny Bono, Michael Berresse as Bob Mackie, Michael Campayno as Rob Camilletti, Matthew Hydzik as Gregg Allman and Emily Skinner as Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt. 

Tony-winning costume designer Bob Mackie was portrayed by Michael Berresse in ‘The Cher Show’ (Photos: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions; Joan Marcus)

Tony-winning costume designer Bob Mackie was portrayed by Michael Berresse in ‘The Cher Show’ (Photos: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions; Joan Marcus)

When did you first hear about bringing a show about Cher’s life to Broadway?
Bob Mackie: Around 18 years ago, I'm not sure exactly when, Flody Suarez came to see me in California. He said, “I’m trying to sell this idea for a Broadway show and if I do it, will you do the show?” And I said, “Yeah, sure. Call me when you're ready.” Many, many years later, it all came around.

When was that challenge of bringing The Cher Show to Broadway?
BM: It had several incarnations. I designed the show several times. We kept a few things each time. But then by the time we finally opened on Broadway, we had done a lot of clothes.

What do you think might surprise people about Cher?
BM: People are always fascinated with her. All these years, there’s a crazy charisma about her. I've known her for 50 years. And she was a grown-up when I met her.

What did you think of Cher when you first met her?
BM: She was so beautiful, gorgeous, fresh and unique. When she started in the business, the ideal All-American girl had blonde hair, a flip or a beehive and a little turned-up nose – she looked like Sandra Dee or Dorris Day. And all of a sudden, this gorgeous young woman appeared, with long, straight black hair, a good-sized nose and very high cheek bones. She looked like she could be Middle Eastern or Hispanic. She looked amazing.

What was the joy of creating costumes for the The Cher Show?
: It’s tricky, because we have three women playing Cher. None of them are exactly like her. But they have the aura, the feel. I knew Cher when she was very young. I knew her in the middle and as she has gotten older. It’s just exciting.

When did you know you had this special gift for design?
BM: I wanted to do it from the time I was a kid, when I found out there was such a thing. I loved the costumes. But I never realized that there were people designing them.

I had a mother who loved to go to the movies. So when I was a child, we went to the movies a lot. When I was only five years old, my favorite movie star was Carmen Miranda. She was so fabulous and colorful. And then I graduated to Betty Grable. She was just as colorful, but not quite as crazy. Then Marilyn Monroe came along. And then Audrey Hepburn came, and my whole idea about what was beautiful changed.

For more of the best of Broadway this summer, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in July 2019.

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