Tuesday, December 4, 2018

THE CHER SHOW: New Jukebox Musical Is A Surprisingly Well-Crafted Broadway Treat

Shakespeare, it's not.  For that, you will have to wait for Glenda Jackson's star turn as King Lear in the spring.  

But if you are looking for a Broadway show that offers a full evening of pure entertainment, I would suggest that you pop for a ticket to The Cher Show that opened last night at the Neil Simon Theatre.  

If you are already a fan of the singer and actress who has picked up a truckload of awards (including Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar) over a career spanning 50+ years, skip the next several paragraphs, enjoy the photos, and head on out!  

But if, like me, you are skeptical about the often sloppy work that goes into that combo of concert and biography that has come to be known as a "jukebox musical," bear with me for a moment. 

As with any form of entertainment, some jukebox musicals are better than others. Shows like Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Jersey Boys, while based on the songbooks of particular performers, are well-written, with engaging stories and attention to production values.  

Others, like Escape to Margaritaville and Summer:  The Donna Summer Musical are pretty much cobbled together to serve as backdrops for performances of already familiar songs. Whatever quality there is lies pretty much exclusively with the quality of the singers. 

Happily, The Cher Show falls into the former category.  Its writer, Rick Elice, wrote the script for Jersey Boys and certainly knows how to present biographical material in an interesting way. It may, as some critics will complain, lack depth, but it provides enough to frame the songs that are presented within a life story. Cher's biography is not especially unusual; what is most interesting about it is what she has made of her life. 

One day she's winning an Oscar for her memorable performance in the movie Moonstruck; then a short time later she can be found selling hair care products on TV.  But comeback after comeback, mostly through live tours and albums, she's fought to return to the upper echelon. 

The Cher Show does a fine job of telling one woman's story of struggling for self-empowerment in what has for so very long been assumed to be a man's world. So, yes, Cher's life story is worth telling, especially at a time when women are standing up in greater and greater numbers for the right to be respected and listened to.

But beyond that, The Cher Show is entertaining as all get out, thanks to a stellar cast and all the bells and whistles the creative team could come up with to support the production, under the leadership of director Jason Moore. It is a wonderful Broadway show.  

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Now here are those production photos I promised you.  

The Three Chers:
 Teal Wicks as "Lady" Cher; Stephanie J. Block as "Star" Cher
and Micaela Diamond as "Babe" Cher

Jerrod Spector as Sonny Bono and Micaela Diamond as Babe
Photo by Joan Marcus

Stephanie J. Block
Photo by Joan Marcus

"Dark Lady," danced by Ashley Blair Fitzgerald
Photo by Joan Marcus

The Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus


Feel free to share this blog with your friends, and to offer up your own theater stories by posting a comment. I also invite you to check out the website Show-Score.Com, where you will find capsule reviews of current plays from Yours Truly and many other New York critics.


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