Touring – reviewed at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking
A world renowned singer, actress and age defying star, Cher has had a longtime career full of ups and downs, which have now been transformed into a glitz-filled stage show.
Turning back time from her Las Vegas residencies, The Cher Show begins in the 1950s with a young Cherilyn Sarkisian who’s longing to be a star, and progresses through her various ventures, successes and failures up to the modern day. Taking on the role of the musical icon, are three superstars who share (cher) the role and show her at various stages of her life. Debbie Kurup plays the Star, Danielle Steers is Lady and Millie O’Connell is the youngest, Baby.
It’s Cher’s rich, contralto voice which makes her so recognisable and the three actresses do a great job of mirroring her style as well as her mannerisms and speaking voice. All are vocally excellent and give performances that the icon herself would be proud of.
Whilst the three Chers represent different times in her life, they also interact throughout and almost act as a Greek chorus or moral compass for one another. This is one of the most effective parts of the musical as the trio interact so wonderfully and have some really witty moments. They also help to keep the plot moving and provide somewhat of a through line to the show.
Aside from this, the script and storyline are somewhat lacklustre. There’s not a real cohesion to the story and while of course liberties can’t be taken with a real life story, it does feel like there needs to be a theme which ties the show together, or at least more of a conclusion. Towards the end of the musical there is more mention of Cher as a Goddess Warrior but it kind of comes from nowhere.
This as a recurring theme throughout could be more effective as a way to show that Cher was a strong business and career woman who got herself back up every time. Instead, the main points and moments are the relationships in Cher’s life. That’s not to say these aren’t enjoyable to watch, and the whole cast do a great job of portraying them, but for Cher being such a powerful woman, there is a distinct lack of oomph and empowerment overall.
The show also has a few moments which fall flat, such as the tap scene where the dancers aren’t actually tapping. For a show which packs in thirty of Cher’s greatest hits, there also isn’t a real crowd pleaser until the megamix at the end. The songs are effectively shoehorned in to tell the story but don’t get a chance to shine in their own right as the musical classics that they are. Perhaps less would be more in terms of showcasing the real bops of the track list and leaving out some of the small interludes.
However, less is most definitely not more in the general visual spectacle of the show. Tom Rodgers’ set is fairly simplistic but cleverly transforms and feels like a thousand sets in one. Gabriella Slade’s costumes take inspiration from Bob Mackie’s originals and bring superb glitz, glam and dazzle to proceedings, with the Cher’s quite literally beaming sparkles around the auditorium. Ben Cracknell’s lighting is a star in its own, completely fitting the vibe of the show and bringing energy and excitement throughout, even more so in the huge finale.
Whilst the tour of The Cher Show does have some faults, it’s a treat to see such strong performances on stage and Cher’s persona and discography speaks for itself. For glitz and glam you couldn’t really ask for more and will Cher-ly have a great time soaking it all in.
photo credit: Pamela Raith