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May 03 2019
Celebrate Pride With THE CHER SHOW Comments (0)

1204_Cher1-1000x725Block delivers the gutsiest of the Chers, the one who'll stick with you. (Image by Joan Marcus)

Not being a big fan of jukebox musicals, I didn't rush out to see The Cher Show on Broadway. But being a big fan of Cher, I couldn't resist forever, and made the pilgrimmage this week.

Teal_wicks_as_lady_stephanie_j._block_as_lady_micaela_diamond_as_babe_and_the_cast_of_the_cher_show_on_broadway_-_photo_by_joan_marcus_1445r-embed_2018I was able to quickly snap out of my disdain for the form thanks to powerful and perfectly calibrated performances by the women playing Cher as a hippie teen called Babe (Micaela Diamond), as a mid-life superstar called Lady (Teal Wicks) and as an ageless goddess and eternal fount of wisdom called Star (Stephanie J. Block).

Though it was a little confusing at first seeing and hearing them interact throughout, as opposed to one aging out of the narrative and being replaced by the next, it was ultimately an effective device — Cher as her own muses, with a big assist from Mama Georgia Holt (Emily Skinner).

The songs are beautifully sung and used in sometimes surprising ways, and no “Heart of Stone” is left unturned — they even explore Cher's backing vocals on some of Phil Spector's '60s hits. If there is a stand-out, it has to be the elaborate “Dark Lady” tango. Some of Cher's biggest solo hits of yore can take on the vibe of novelty tunes, but “Dark Lady” is made both timeless and current, and is embodied in a show-stopping performance led by dancer Ashley Blair Fitzgerald that is worth the price of admission all by itself.

NTNWCRBRPAI6TBVLLUBBBGXLAESpector & Diamond (Image by Joan Marcus)

Also attracting the audience's warm appreciation is Jarrod Spector as Sonny. He suggests enough of Sonny's unique vocal stylings to elicit gasps, and he has that goofy charm and dad humor that made Cher fall in love.

Giphy 12.48.53 AMHillary Clinton was in the audience the night I went! (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

The book, by Rick Elice, doesn't take itself too seriously, but does dwell on the inspirational aspects of Cher's many ups and downs, stumbling itself here and there (a joke about Sonny's death feels forced and ruins an emotional moment; repeated digs at the writers behind Cher's '70s TV series felt gratuitous considering we all loved that show; an appearance by Lucille Ball is pointless and frankly embarrassing; presenting Cher using the terms “chill” and “that's how I roll” in the '70s is an anachronistic oops only made more jarring by Matthew Hydzik's strangely modern-day rapper quality as Gregg Allman).

IMG_2264Taking their bows (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Finally, the secret of Cher's success is that she consistently does what pleases her while simultaneously making sure to give her crowd what it wants. To that end, the show is jam-packed with Bob Mackie outfits, sometimes two or three every few seconds; with all of Cher's signature hits; and with the best and cutest dancers on Broadway, including jaw-dropping Charlie Williams. What's not to love?

I can't think of any other show in NYC that would go better with the upcoming Pride season.

The Cher Show is at the Neil Simon Theatre.