With nostalgic tunes, kitsch design, and oodles of Bob Mackie sequins, The Cher Show is a suitably dazzling new jukebox musical based on the life and long career of the singer-actor-legend.
It’s basically a tribute show performed by talented impersonators, with as many cringe-worthy moments as funny ones.
Cher’s a big enough star to require tripartite depiction. As in Albee’s Three Tall Women, one woman becomes three. The Cher trinity share the stage, discussing their overlapping histories and encouraging each other to share their stories, each representing different periods of Cher’s life. In non-chronological order, they recreate her highs and lows in music, TV, movies – and husbands.
The youngest of the three, Babe (Micaela Diamond), remains in thrall to Sonny Bono (Jarrod Spector) while the others have more complex memories of him. The eldest, Star (Stephanie J Block) has seen it all, but still relishes reminders of her youth. Middle Cher, Lady (Teal Wicks), has to contend with Bono’s restrictions until she gains her independence.
With excellent wigs and Mackie’s vivid costumes, each of the three captures Cher’s distinctive voice and manner. What the cast is doing is less creative interpretation than reenactment, yet Block’s magnetism bursts through, while Spector nails Bono’s quirkiness and nasality.
Director Jason Moore’s staccato production jolts from cartoonish variety numbers to flashy concert-style projections and live video, including a pointless, albeit breathtaking, presentation of famous Mackie costumes. The musical chronology also jumps awkwardly around Cher’s back catalogue, juxtaposing 1980s synth with 1960s beats.
The Cher Show attempts to deliver a message of female empowerment, despite the fact that the narrative is centred around her relationships with men. Still it succeeds as a story of one woman’s persistence and survival.