The Cher Show is a dazzling new jukebox musical from Jersey Boys book writer Rick Elcie. The show had it’s world premiere in Chicago in 2018 opening to rave reviews and soon opened on Broadway of the same year. Winning Tony Awards for Lead Actress in a Musical (Stephanie J Block) and for Cher’s longtime costumier and icon himself, Bob Mackie, the show was an instant hit with Cher devotees and theatre audiences alike. Soon afterward, UK transfer rumors started appearing and a new production opened at Leicester Curve in 2022 before embarking on a UK Tour. Now London audiences get the chance to groove to hits If I Could Turn Back Time, I Got You Babe, Believe and Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves as this celebrated spectacle plays the New Wimbledon Theatre for a limited time.
Music icon turned Hollywood royalty, the Grammy®, Oscar®, Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning Queen of re-invention has conquered it all. It’s now time to turn back time with this fiercely fabulous kick-ass new musical. The Cher Show tells the incredible story of Cher’s meteoric rise to fame, flying in the face of convention at every turn. Six decades of stardom, over a hundred million records sold. Legend, icon, Queen. She is Cher and this is her show.
For The Cher Show director Arlene Phillips (Grease, Starlight Express), directs three West End stars as Cher during the span of her iconic career; Millie O’Connell (SIX, Rent) as Babe, Danielle Steers (Bat Out of Hell, SIX) as Lady and the Olivier Award nominated Debbie Kurup (Prince of Egypt, The Bodyguard) as the ultimate diva, Star. Joining them are Lucas Rush (Evita, Rock of Ages, American Idiot) as Sonny, Jake Mitchell (Snow White and The Happy Ever After Beauty Salon, Flunkey in The Tailor Of Gloucester) as Bob Mackie, Sam Ferriday (Heathers, The Wedding Singer, Rock of Ages, Bonnie & Clyde) as Greg Allman/Rob Camilletti/Phil Spector and John Southall and Tori Scott (Tori Scott is Thirsty!, Better Nate than Ever) as Georgia. A large ensemble support including Jordan Anderton, Jasmine Jules Andrews, Carla Bertran, Catherine Cornwall, Áine Curran, Sam Holden, Samantha Ivey, Ingrid Olivia, Aston Newman Hannington, Clayton Rosa, Chay Wills and Guy Woolf.
Playing multiple characters, Sam Ferriday as Greg Allman/Rob Camilletti/Phil Spector and John Southall is a lot of fun throughout donning different costumes and accents as he plays four men who have been instrumental in one way or another to Cher’s career. Relishing in Bob Mackie’s larger than life personality, Jake Mitchell is a delight as he brings the famed Broadway costumier to life. As Sonny, Lucas Rush is impeccable. Wearing hippie garb and that famous Sonny haircut, Rush portrays the complicated character with finesse and a twinkle in their eye. Our three leading ladies were exceptional, giving perhaps the best performances of the year. Millie O’Connell as Babe portrays Cher from a young age through to when she meets Sonny and up until her Sonny and Cher Show days, gaining fame with the hit song I Got You Babe. O’Connell’s Babe is sweet, innocent and a little naive at times as she grows into the quick witted star we all know and love. Danielle Steers as Lady portrays Cher as she becomes more independent through money and relationship troubles up until the early 80s and her performance of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) was an emotional and vocal highlight of Act One. Debbie Kurup as Star portrays Cher from the early 80s through to her short stint on Broadway, her films and up until her Believe album release. Kurup performs with such reverence and love, her Star is a masterclass in character acting and her vocal absolutely sublime. Unapologetically Cher from the top of the show, all three portrayals of Cher are sensational and completely embody Cher’s way of speaking, singing and her mannerisms- that famous hair flip!
Rick Elcie’s very clever book sees all three Cher’s onstage throughout the show commenting on the action from their life and joining each other in song. At one point during Act Two, Kurup’s Star tells Babe to “Snap out of it!” (a reference to Cher’s performance in Moonstruck) and O’Connell’s Babe replies “So we’re quoting our own movies now?!” Along with Cher’s imposing personality and with absolute reverence to its namesake, The Cher Show takes on an almost loving parody and cult show with-a-huge-budget feeling. Tom Rogers set design is superb and very effective. With a grander often not seen in a touring production, Rogers sparkling set has Cher’s wigs and costumes adorning each side of the stage throughout and two large doors as the main entrances at the back. Trucks are brought on to depict different locales with large numbers built in so the audience always understand when the events are taking place. Oti Mabuse’s choreography was effective, if a little uninventive. At one point, her dancers came on only to be told to leave as part of a lyric which could have been avoided all together and still had the same emotional impact. Scenes were often overcrowded with dancers who seemed to be onstage only as a box ticking exercise. Arlene Phillips at the helm as director achieved a slick and sharp production with the emotional and comedic moments never missing.
This new UK production of The Cher Show features performances by three leading West End women at the top of their game, fabulous sets and costumes, a clever book and inspired direction. Easily becoming the best touring production I have ever seen, lets hope this fabulously off-beat musical gets a West End transfer so more audiences can answer that important question, do you believe in life after love?
Reviewed by Stuart James