Stephanie J Block in The Cher Show. Photograph:
By Eugene Paul
Chers for the Cher Show, Hip, Hip Hooray, Hip, Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray!
Because that’s how many Chers it takes to play the phenomenon, scculpted,
molded, and twenty-five years younger than the seventy-two she is inhabiting.
She could go on forever this way – she’s not in the show, that’s for the
working stiffs, she’s the producer -- as long as endless award winner Bob
Mackie can dream up those outrageous outfits to slither and shriek all over her
well known frame. They make the bare backbone of the show. Mackie’s outfits
and choreographer Christopher Gatelli’s dancers. And that one spectacular
dance routine built around fabulous Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, worth the price of
the show. The Chers? They’re there because they have to be. Hell, it’s Cher’s
show. And she serves up lashings and lashings of froth. Judging from the
reactions of the audience – her audience – it seems to be plenty nourishing.
three Chers? Rick Elice’s witless book – well, what is he gonna do? It’s a juke
box musical -- establishes Babe, young Cher, played by appealing Micaela
Diamond who’s a pleasure every time she appears, Lady Cher, sort of kind of the
youngish middle years when a lot’s flying, played by not too comfortable Teal
Wicks who looks wonderful, what else, and then there’s Star Cher, inhabited by
amazing star Stephanie J. Block who really knows what she’s doing, she not only
sings better than the Producer, she actually makes some of Elice’s lines good
and she wears Mackie’s wildest creations, some of them unforgettable, with as
much panache as the original. And that’s fifty percent of the show right
there, so we’re way ahead.
you’re hoping for a macho measure of the men in her life, you get short
shrift: Elice elided. We do all right with Jarrod Spector’s wicked take on
Sonny Bono, her shoulder high Machiavelli who owned her in spite of all the
advice she got from her other selves about the guy. It took her a while to
realize that she was the show but he was getting all the profits. Working her
way out of those clutches was a momentary couple of interesting twinges in the
story line but most of the time we were soothed and sated by endless costumes,
eye popping to mere ensnaring, dancers, dancers, dancers in Gatelli routines
almost ad infinitum, perfectly justified because the whole show is shaped more
or less as a continuing saga of Cher tours. The sheer energy of those
knockout, toned dancers, those magnificent girls, those magnificent men, is
pure Broadway bliss. And director Jason Moore knows it, serves it up again and
Teal Wicks, Stephanie J
Block and Micaela Diamond in The Cher Show. Photograph: Joan Marcus
to complete his job, he’s got to get those Chers constantly in the center of
the flow, which keeps set designers Christine Jones and Brett J. Banakis,
lighting designer Kevin Adams, sound designer Nevin Steinberg on a constant
whirl of surrounding and supporting their multiple star in clamour and glitz,
changing wigs at an unbelievable rate (thank you Charles G. LaPointe, wig maven
extraordinaire.) (The backstage crew have to be magicians.) And sitting on top
of it all, every detail her sole prerogative, the Producer, Cher.
She learned her lessons.
Walter McBride/Getty Images
Emily Skinner brings her gifts and solidity to the role of Cher’s
mother in the few scenes she inhabits between and among those thirty-five
songs. Yes, you get everything from “I got You, Babe” on, although we are given
highlighted moments of Cher’s march to an Oscar, a non-singing Oscar, attesting
to her acting chops. And yes, we unfailingly like Cher throughout the entire
show in all her phases, but I have to give you one quote when, even late in
Cher’s life, Mom again offers her that unfailing bit of advice, “Marry a rich
man”. And Cher comes up with the best line in the show: ”Mom, I am a rich man.”
enjoyed Michael Berresse, Michael Campayno and Michael Fatica in multiple
roles. And absolutely congratulate Daryl Waters for his musical supervision and
orchestration. And can’t help saying again how extraordinary dancer Ashley
Blair Fitzgerald and her magnificent partners are. They’re the most exciting
three minutes on Broadway.
At the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 50th St. Tickets: $69-$328.
877-250-2929. 2 hrs, 30 min. Open run.