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Now Opening: 'The Cher Show' Struts Onto Broadway

Category Broadway

|by Ron Fassler |

The diva-centric musical opened on Dec. 3rd

John Ford’s classic 1962 western film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, tells its entire story in flashback. And at its finish, when all has been revealed about who really did the killing, the newsman who’s listened to it all tears up everything he’s written down. “This is the West, sir,” he explains. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

This famous quote might spring to mind with The Cher Show, the new Broadway musical which opened this week at the Neil Simon Theatre. After all, when it comes to living legends in the music industry, there are few performers whose careers have survived more ups and downs – and who have persisted through them – that would make for a more dramatic story than Cher. 

‘The Cher Show’ serves up Cher, times three: Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block and Michaela Diamond (Photo: Joan Marcus)

‘The Cher Show’ serves up Cher, times three: Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block and Michaela Diamond (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Before there was Madonna, before there was Beyoncé, there was the solo-named phenomena Cher Sarkisian, who is still the only artist to score six #1 chart singles by Billboard in six consecutive decades. In what has now become close to a yearly exercise on Broadway, classic songbooks of fabled singers or songwriters (or singer-songwriters) continue to inspire musical biographies. Among them: Jersey Boys (The Four Seasons) and Beautiful (Carol King), and Summer (Donna Summer) – which, like The Cher Show, uses three different iterations of its lead character to tell her story, casting three separate actresses. And with the rich and varied music that Cher has offered over these past fifty-plus years, with titles such as “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” “Dark Lady,” “The Way of Love,” “I Found Someone,” “If I Could Turn Back Time,” and her biggest hit of all, “Believe,” audiences enter the theater already singing the tunes.

A ubiquitous presence in American musical culture since the mid-1960s, Cher first made herself known as half of Sonny & Cher, teamed with her then-husband Sonny Bono. Not only did they conquer the pop charts with such hits as “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe,” but they also braved television. Once the couple divorced, Cher was cast adrift, and so began her difficult struggle to survive as a solo artist. And if any drama were needed to tell the story as a musical one, then it would seem the creators of The Cher Show have been handed a gift on a silver platter. For not only is Cher a survivor, but she also continues as strong a cultural force as ever, selling out around the world in arenas and concert halls at an age when many people are content to retire and spend the rest of their time managing their portfolios.  

In The Cher Show, the roles of Cher are led by the Tony-nominated Stephanie J. Block (as “Star,” the eldest Cher), Micaela Diamond as the youngest version (“Babe”) and Teal Wicks as middle Cher (“Lady”). Moving in and out of time, in costumes that are each more affectionate, detailed and tributary than the next, there could even be a special Tony in store for Cher’s longtime creative genius designer, Bob Mackie, a legend unto himself (who is played in the show by Tony-nominated actor-singer-dancer Michael Berresse). Directed by Jason Moore (Avenue Q, Shrek), and written by Rick Elice – who took home a Tony for co-writing the book for Jersey Boys in 2006 – the musical has been in development for many years. With Cher listed as one of the show’s producers, it can be assured that whatever transpires in the telling of her story, that it has all been vetted and approved by Cher herself.

And if you have followed her long career, the best part of Cher is her knowing self-awareness. Has she ever really taken herself all that seriously, even when triumphing at the Oscars in 1988 when she won the Best Actress Academy Award for her wonderful performance in Moonstruck? Who can ever forget the outfit she wore to that year’s ceremony: a nude, jewel-encrusted gown, completely transparent, with no more than a veil of black netting and some very well-placed beading. Designed by, yes, Bob Mackie, you will be pleased to know that if you buy your tickets for The Cher Show, in addition to all the fabulous songs that are in store for you, that very costume makes its own special appearance.

For more of the best of Broadway, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in December 2018

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