This has been the season of the divas on Broadway. While a “season” on the Great White Way usually lasts exactly that, audiences have been getting more than their fill of their favorite ladies on Broadway stages recently. Just in the past year, Donna Summer was dripping in disco fabulousity in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, while Bette Midler stepped down a staircase and into audiences hearts, feather headdress and all, in Hello Dolly.
While Dolly and Donna both had amazing runs, if you had listened closely in the audiences you would have heard the buzz starting; Cher was coming to Broadway. Her show was being work shopped and fine tuned and fans were simply waiting for the moment when tickets and casting would be announced. That subsequent announcement and opening night brought out Broadway, music, and fashion luminaries including Bob Mackie (who designed all of the original costumes for The Cher Show) as well as the icon herself, who dueted during a curtain call with Stephanie J Block, who portrays the incarnation of Cher known as “Star”.
Now the cast, pardon the phraseology Ms. Midler, is absolutely divine. The titular "Cher-acters" tell the story of Cher's storied career in three distinct ways; the tentative and wide eyed “Babe” (played by the blissful Micaela Diamond), the strong and street smart "Lady" (portrayed by the effervescent Teal Wicks, and "Star". On the evening I got to see the production, Star was portrayed by the luminous Dee Roscioli (Broadway veteran Stephanie J. Block regularly has the role). These women are able to weave through each other seamlessly while telling stories of Cher’s life. Many of the stories are known to all of us, but are showcased in this production in a completely different way. The "Cher-acters" serve as each other's conscious, co-conspirators, and colleagues, assisting each other through some of the highest highs and lowest lows of our favorite Dark Lady’s storied career.
The supporting cast is just as dynamic, with most of the landmark people in Cher's life represented. From record producer Phil Spector (the eerily wonderful Michael Fatica) to former husband Greg Allman (the ruggedly fantastic Matthew Hydzik) to Georgia Holt (the phenomenally diva-fied Emily Skinner), who almost serves as the conscious of the production throughout.
The men in Cher’s life always played a major role throughout every incarnation of her career and that is more than represented in The Cher Show. Sonny Bono was the overarching presence in Cher’s life, and the portrayal Jarrod Spector crafted is potently powerful, barreling from bright eyed and burgeoning music star to heavy handed taskmaster with ease. Famed costumer and bon vivant Bob Mackie is portrayed by Michael Berresse in the most deliciously divine way possible (the fashion fitting scene at Mackie’s studio is an added extra treat)!
And then…the music. A total of thirty five Cher favorites are included in the production and as an added bonus, are not in chronological order. Some are duets, some are sung by an individual “Cher”, and others are sprinkled throughout the production to enhance and move the story along briskly and done in the smoothest way.
As the old saying goes though, after the apocalypse comes, Cher will be left standing when all is said and done. With a Kennedy Center Honor nod in the recent rearview mirror and a book and a biopic coming imminently, I definitely think we just may have a few more acts of the real life Cher Show to enjoy.