The Cher Show at New Wimbledon Theatre
The Cher Show is a touring musical that I have been eager to see since the start of the tour, therefore the expectations were high for this show. Luckily it lived up to my high expectations and then some.
The musical follows Cher’s life from her beginnings as a shy young girl through to her final tour and uses her own music to narrate the show. The Cher Show however is different to many of the other biographical musicals out there as we meet 3 different actresses who play Cher at various stages of her life. Millie O’Connell plays ‘Babe,’ Cher throughout her younger years, from her discovering she wants to be a singer through to her relationship with Sonny. Danielle Steers plays ‘Lady’ which follows Cher fresh from her breakup with Sonny trying to reinvent herself and Debbie Kurup plays ‘Star’ which looks at Cher’s later romantic relationships and her farewell tours. The portrayal by these 3 women however is clever and they interact with each other throughout the show, the past and present versions of Cher lingering, sometimes offering advice and other times simply watching over themselves. The press blurb for this show says ‘3 Chers is better than one,’ and this bears true. This interpretation makes the show stand out, in the best possible way, from other biopics and gives the show an opportunity to veer away from naturalism when needed.
The show does veer away from going into any real examination of any of Cher’s turmoil and whilst it is mentioned it is often moved swiftly past in favour of the next musical number. However not all musicals need to be heavy and the staging and the delivery of the show is all executed so well that this real drama was not missed.
The Cher Show heavily relies on the talent of the leading ladies and this was one of many areas the show excelled. Kurup, Steers and O’Connell are all fantastic. They all sound remarkably like the legend herself and they have mastered her mannerisms with subtle nuances as her confidence grew and her rise to fame escalated. The fact that the show has been staged to allow all 3 women on stage together despite representing different periods of her life also meant that we could hear these powerhouse women singing Cher’s iconic songs together as well as them each getting a moment to shine.
Cher has a huge back catalogue to draw on and 34 of her iconic songs are featured in this show, some with small snippets of and others repeated throughout. Her rousing anthem Believe is featured several times but we also hear ‘I Got You Babe’ from her early career as well as crowd pleasers such as ‘Strong Enough.’ All of the songs fitted well into the show, some used as performances that Cher was giving, others to help drive the narrative.
Choreography was by Oti Mabuse and you could tell that she was in her element during the huge numbers where she had 12 fierce dancers to work with. These numbers were high in energy and an absolute blast to watch. Equally however the show was not afraid to let Cher simply own the stage by herself and demonstrate just why she has earned the title of a diva or an icon.
The set design was by Tom Rogers who makes the audience feel as if they are backstage with Cher, from a wall of costume bags through to 2 huge walls full of Cher’s wigs. This is also a nod to how important clothing was to Cher and her career. When the set itself references Cher’s iconic looks the costume design it vital, add into this the number of references throughout the show about Cher’s fashion choices the costumes were vital to get right. Designed by Gabriella Slade she absolutely nails this, not only with Cher’s costumes designed to evolve as she did as a woman but the supporting ensemble were given a fierce look which remained their costume throughout. It has a timeless element to it as well as generous dusting of Cher’s vibe.
The Cher Show is a fitting tribute to the iconic woman, a feast for the eyes and ears with spot on casting, vocals, set and costume and a wonderfully different take on a jukebox musical.
To find out more about The Cher Show and to book tickets you can visit their website here.