The Cher Show pre-Broadway Premiere: Will it be the smash everyone's expecting?

The Cher Show pre-Broadway Premiere: Will it be the smash everyone's expecting?
Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

"The show “needs work... “I’m not supposed to say that, but I don’t care.” 

That's what Cher said after she sneaked into a preview of "The Cher Show" last week during its pre-Broadway premiere run at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph).

Although she didn't totally pan the show, admitting that it was better than she expected, the lady definitely isn't satisfied.

Yes there's work to be done. And I have a feeling it will get done.

With the likes of Jeffrey Seller of Hamilton fame (and with no help from Hamilton) in the production chair along with his producing partner, former NBC executive Flody Suarez--they've already got their big guns out.

The team is a good one from Christine Jones and Brett J. Banakis's scenic design, Kevin Adams's lighting design and Tony Award winner Rick Elice's book to Jason Moore's (Avenue Q, Pitch Perfect) direction.

With a life as full as Cher's, it is hard to condense it all into 2 hours and 30 minutes. Therein lies the problem and the task the talented Cher team has staring them in the face.

How to cover six straight decades of the icon's life from an impoverished kid to an icon while still keeping things popping.

One thing that needs no change is Bob Mackie's costumes--dozens of them--from when the pair first joined forces during rehearsals for the Carol Burnett show in 1967 to now where Mackie (Mackie is portrayed by Michael Berresse in The Cher Show) is still an important force in the star's life. Mackie's jaw-dropping costumes that display enough dazzle to cause a sequins shortage in Chicago steal the show, and in my opinion are worth the price of admission. It's hard to imagine Cher without Mackie's costumes. Whether Sonny or Mackie was a bigger influence on the superstar's career could be argued. Certainly her Glam Star image is Mackie-made.

The story is told through an interesting concept showcasing what Cher wanted to do and what she did do during each phase of her life along with her ups and downs. Three actresses portray Cher at different stages of her life while interacting with with each other throughout the show.

Micaela Diamond is "Babe," the young Cher who heads to LA at 16 meets Sonny and begins finding herself; Tony Award nominee Stephanie J. Block (who Chicago audiences may remember during her time here as Elphaba in the first national touring production of “Wicked,”) is  “Star”-- Cher from the 1980s.  And Teal Wicks is "Lady," the third Cher.

Of course, there's Sonny (Jarrod Spector) who is spot-on in the role.

Also prominent in the show is is her mom, Georgia Holt (Emily Skinner), a steady stabilizing force who made her "Believe."and, at age 92, is still in her life.

Rounding out the cast is Matthew Hydzik as Cher's Rock star, drug-addicted 2nd husband Gregg Allman and Michael Campayno as Cher’s much younger lover, Rob Camilletti--even Lucy (Lucille Ball) steps in to provide some advice when Cher is trying to get her life back together after her break with Sonny.

Fans will be thrilled with the hit-parade of songs--35 of her chart-topping hits from I Got You Babe, Strong Enough, Half Breed, I Found Someone, A Different Kind of Love Song, Take Me Home, and Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves-- some sung in their entirity and others in snippets.

Beyond the music, the show covers Cher's TV shows, her acting career on Broadway and in film including her Oscar-winning turn in “Moonstruck”along with her Las Vegas appearances and more.


Photo: Joan-Marcus

Photo: Joan-Marcus

And that's a lot of life.

Yes there's work to be done and it's being done. All that said, I would definitely say, see this show. It's already good and with changes being made daily will only get better.

With "The Cher Show" scheduled to open on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theater on December 3 things must keep rolling.

Or as Cher would say, "Let’s do this, bitches!"

Rating: ★★★
When: Through July 15
Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph

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Filed under: Theater in Chicago

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