‘The CHER Show’, with its ‘A New Musical’ branding enjoyed a feverish reception from a packed house at the Birmingham Hippodrome press night.
Many were Cher fans, there to pay homage to their diva-heroine as much as they were to see the show. Let’s face it – it’s been a long time coming as it closed on Broadway back in 2018 and hibernated through the Covid years.
Indeed it’s a glitzy business with a full throttle cast corralled to perfection by an all-star team of creatives.
Director Arlene Phillips combines with choreographer Oti Mabuse to raise the bar on the action, the neck hairs on the tunes and the sublime energy and downright raunchiness of the general bopping.
Add designer Tom Rogers imaginatively masterpiece of a set, equally the dazzling lighting by Ben Cracknell and wardrobe from Gabriella Slade and you have the ‘Avengers Assembled’.
Such is the awesomeness of the ‘Queen of Divas’ it takes three actors to fill her stilettos – Debbie Kurrup, Danielle Steers and Millie O’ Connell each play Cher in three stages of her life, Babe (O’Connell), Lady (Steers) and Star (Kurrup). Each and every one of the trio are superb both individually and collectively.
Other principals include Lucas Rush as an endearing Sonny Bono and Jake Mitchell equally so as Bob Mackie. Sam Ferriday, multitasks as Greg Allman, Rob Camilletti, Phil Spector and John Southall.
A special shout out to Tori Scott as Georgia, Cher’s Mum.
There’s not a weak link in the hard working ‘entourage’ and the band under Rich Morris and soundman Dan Samson literally ‘Boom- Boom Shake The Room’.
Whilst everything about this show is high quality and high energy I found the book by Rick Elice a little lacking. That’s not to dispute his talents, after all this is the writer who gave us Jersey Boys and The Adams Family.
However In Jersey Boys he had the Mafia to boost the storyline – with the Addams Family it was awash with monsters, vampires and ghouls whilst Cher’s story is pretty ordinary really. Especially when people realise her first husband Sonny was quite a nice bloke and not to be confused with Tina’s wife beating husband Ike.
What Cher is all about apart from being an Icon with a capital I is a woman who wanted to do things on her own, not advised, cajoled or dictated to by men.
More empowerment seeking tweaks and less trivia in the script would add another layer – after all unlike film, theatre is a continuous journey.
In fairness I believe this version to be far superior to the Broadway original and that the wonderful Arlene Phillips, has sprinkled her fairy dust all over it.
The walkdown is a party to which we were all invited and I left thinking not only could I watch this again – how delightful it would be to see the grand dame herself live! If she does another farewell tour – I’ll be there.
The Cher Show runs until Saturday, August 6. Click here for times, tickets and more information
Review by Euan Rose.