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The Cher Show

Stephanie J Block in The Cher Show. Photograph: Joan Marcus




                          By Eugene Paul


Three 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.


The 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.



If 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 again.


 Teal Wicks, Stephanie J Block and Micaela Diamond in The Cher Show. Photograph: Joan Marcus


But 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


Wonderful 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.”


I 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.


The Cher Show. At the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 50th St. Tickets: $69-$328. 877-250-2929. 2 hrs, 30 min. Open run.