The Cher Show opens at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater

//The Cher Show opens at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater
  • the_cher_show_2018

The Cher Show opens at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater

The Broadway-bound bio-musical spans more than half a century of the trailblazing diva’s hit songs, TV shows, movies, fashions and romances, pegged to the personal mantra, “Believe.”

If Cher had ever envisioned a cage match between ex-husbands Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman, it’s heartwarming to think she may have done so in the Cher-iest way possible: In one of the strangest theatrical numbers ever, with the men performing “Dark Lady” as a duet while sexy dancers writhe between them. It’s excessive, funny and self-deprecating, a lot like the diva herself, and all part of The Cher Show, the Broadway-bound bio-musical due in New York later this year, now finding its legs at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago.

Then again to really — really — appreciate this number and the musical itself, it helps to have been a fan back in the day, to remember the shock that ensued in 1976 when Cher reunited with ex-husband Bono for an awkward reincarnation of their CBS variety show, while she was married to Allman and very visibly pregnant with their son. Not caring what anyone might think — or at least pretending not to — has always been chief among Cher’s charms.

Her 56-year career is a playbook in perseverance. By the time she won the Oscar for Moonstruck in 1988, following her resurrection from the sequined wreckage of the 1960s and ’70s, she was only just getting started. Two huge, hard-won Top 40 comebacks followed — exceedingly rare for any artist in middle age, particularly in the era before streaming, when FM gatekeepers could either play or bury your song. Almost every new tune from Cher began on the bury list.

The Cher Show aims somehow to achieve the probably impossible feat of tying a neat two-hour-and-thirty-minute ribbon around much of it — while entertaining the masses and presenting a strong feminist message.

Terrific casting, marvelous costumes (it’s Bob Mackie after all, not just behind-the-scenes but portrayed onstage, fabulously by Michael Berresse), delightfully retro dance numbers from choreographer Christopher Gattelli and of course a bursting catalog more than 50 hits deep — from “The Beat Goes On” to “If I Could Turn Back Time” and latter-day anthems like “Strong Enough” — all go a very long way.

But this earnest work-in-progress also feels both long in places and rushed in others. And the chief framing device, a show within the taping of a TV show, is sometimes confusing, and not really needed. What is needed is more of what makes this legend, now 72, unique.

A sketch by Bob Mackie for 'The Cher Show.'

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By |November 14th, 2018|Theater|0 Comments

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