The Cher Show strangely is more noteworthy for its jokes, dancing, and costumes, than the singing or story.
|Venue||Neil Simon Theater|
|Venue Address||250 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019|
|Good If You Like||Cher
When Background Dancers Are More Interesting Than The Singing
When The Singers Try To Mimic The Voice and Sound of the Original Artist
|Total Time||2 Hours and 30 Min (with a 15-minute intermission)|
|Star Cher||Stephanie J. Block|
|Lady Cher||Teal Wicks|
|Babe Cher||Micaela Diamond|
|Georgia (Might Also Be Lucille Ball)||Emily Skinner|
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The Neil Simon Theater, like many, isn’t really built for tall people. I’m roughly 5’11, maybe 6 feet, and if I was any taller, my knees would have been a makeshift headrest for the person in front of me. As for the rest of the theater, there isn’t anything noteworthy really. Security is basic, they check your bags but don’t really check your bag. The ushers are nice, there is a lot of merchandise to buy, a bar, but I can’t speak for the bathrooms. Didn’t go in there.
Let me preface this by saying I know the big hits, like “Believe,” “If I Can Turn Back Time” “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” and “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.” So while a fan of Cher, I’m not a HUGE fan of share. With that said, if you are like me, and know the hits more than the catalog, nearly all of the songs you know will happen in the first half of the show. Yeah, this is a musical which doesn’t introduce songs in the order of Cher’s timeline to help you understand the significance of the song at the time. Even “Believe” is used within the first half, then reprised for the big finish.
But, while the music is all over the place, you may or may not enjoy the fact each version of Cher, be it Star, Lady, or Babe, mimics the way Cher talks and sings. It helps with the jokes, for sure, but singing wise? Well, if you don’t know the words by heart, you may feel the annunciation of some songs is a bit rough. Though, when it comes to the story, at the very least that is in chronological order and makes sense – for the most part. Some bits, like Cher’s mom Georgia introducing her to auto-tune likely are artistic license, but you can’t have it all right? Well, considering Lucille Ball pops up, it makes you wonder why couldn’t we?
The Dance Numbers & Costumes
For me, the costumes and dancing in musicals aren’t that noteworthy because dancers are usually there to fill up the stage. However, in The Cher Show, that doesn’t apply. First and foremost, their outfits are sometimes at the level of the Chers – probably because there is a fashion show featuring Cher’s iconic looks. Especially some of the looks she had during the Sonny and Cher Show days.
However, one moment that stands out above the rest is this dance number while Sonny and Gregg Allman do a song. I cannot tell you what they were singing but the dancers put on the type of performance which made me wish the dancer was given a shout out. Either by Star Cher or at the end of the show. For truly, I’m not sure what awards are given to individual dancers on Broadway, but that woman should be nominated. She, more than damn near any song sung, was the highlight of the evening.
Star Cher and Lady Cher pretty much dominate thanks to telling jokes throughout the show. Star Cher, usually, by giving commentary throughout the whole thing and Lady Cher during the Sonny and Cher days. Now, I want to note most of the jokes are kind of corny or are things you may have heard Cher say before, like “Why would I marry a rich man? I am a rich man!” But, as long as you came to have fun, you’ll get your kicks from the quips.
The Stage & Screen Visuals
Whether it is using cameras to remake what the Sonny and Cher show looked like, if not their first time on Top of the Pops, the set pieces really bring something to the show. Also, there are two moving walls with panels which are used in a rather lovely way, mostly for costume changes, that you learn to appreciate. To the point of weirdly getting excited when you realize they are about to get used for something.
Outside of the Big Finale, A Lot of Songs Seemed Changed to Be More Dramatic Than Dance Friendly
Again, not a huge Cher fan so most of the stuff I know would be on her greatest hits collection. With that said, most of her greatest hits are dancing or pop tunes. So the show making them a bit darker and deeper, allowing for Broadway belting, it just seemed unnecessary. Cher is an entertainer, not a songstress like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. So while I’m sure Cher has some deep records, considering her divorce with Sunny and so much more, there is no need to turn the pop hits into those kind of records.
On The Fence
Too Many Chers At One Time
Star Cher barely leaves the stage for more than a costume change. Plus, Star Cher looks so much like Cher and sounds like her that it almost makes you question why did we need the other two? They could have had Babe Cher help with how Disney musicals inspired Cher to Sonny and Cher and then Star Cher all the time. Cutting down a musical which honestly feels a tad bit bloated. Especially since it spends the entire first half just focusing on Sonny and Cher’s relationship and the second half pretty much ends at Believe and then it’s all about Cher’s different tour looks from the “Do You Believe Tour” on.
Meaning there isn’t much said about Cher’s life after 1999. So no conversation about Chaz Bono, who isn’t even shown during the Sonny and Cher show days, any beefs she may have had *cough* Madonna *cough* or even her presence as an LGBT icon. Yes, in the show, they are addressed for they are assumed to be there. However, there just feels like so much that could have been said but was avoided for one reason or another.
Which, granted, maybe wouldn’t belong in a musical like this. However, until a biopic rolls around, this is the closest thing to getting to know and understand Cher there is and, at times, it feels like it dropped the ball. Mostly by relying on diehard fan of Cher vs. people who like, be it reverently or occasionally, seeing musicals – no matter who they are about.
Comparing This To Summer The Musical
I tried to hold off doing direct comparisons for the above, but it has to be done. To me, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical set a standard for shows if they want to split the lead into three parts. Especially by era. In that show, it made each era distinct and they had very limited interaction with one another. In The Cher Show, they blend together so well they literally swap in and out when Cher, especially Babe, is being too shy or awkward. Also, they talk amongst each other which isn’t a terrible means of storytelling, but makes it so the era thing seems almost a waste.
But the big thing which makes Summer better is that the acts don’t seem to be doing a high budget drag show, just featuring women. In Summer, the women aren’t trying to talk or sing like Donna, what they are trying to capture is that energy and spirit. Something the ladies of The Cher Show do as well, but because the music loses its dance vibe, you feel like they are missing one of the big things which is the sell.
Overall: Mixed (One & Done)
If a big-time Cher fan, I think anything negative said above you’d just take as the ramblings of someone who doesn’t love, or get, Cher. However, if only a casual fan, or curious, I’d proceed with caution. For if it isn’t how uncomfortable it is to sit for such a long show, it is because the best thing about the show is the dancers and costumes. Maybe with the jokes as cream on top, depending on your sense of humor.
Hence the mixed label. For me, productions like this make me wish Fathom Events got to do live Broadway shows. Especially when it comes to productions like The Cher Show for it just makes you question even buying the $59 nosebleed seats. Never mind the seats which go into the $100s.