REVIEW: THE CHER SHOW @ THE THEATRE ROYAL
Updated: Aug 20, 2022
🎭 THE CHER SHOW
📍 Theatre Royal, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR
🗓 Wednesday 22nd June 2022
A HIGH-OCTANE ADRENALINE RUSH!
The Cher Show transports you for 2 1/2 hours into the fabulous world of Cherilyn Sarkisian & we're invited to turn back time (pun intended!) as we look at the soaring highs & crashing lows of one of the world's most recognised stars.
The part of Cher is portrayed by three different actresses, but rather than each taking it in turns to give their versions of the character, they were all on the stage throughout & interacted with each other. It was like Cher wrestling with her thoughts, memories, fears & aspirations which was interesting & was beautifully portrayed throughout.
Throughout the production, one 'Cher' would lead the story. The young, innocent Cher known as 'Babe' was portrayed by Jasmine Jules Andrews (understudy). Babe takes us back to Cher's childhood when the young Cherilyn was bullied at school for looking different & discovering her love for music, through to her leaving home & meeting Sonny Bono, being rejected by as a solo singer by Phil Spector & to the release & huge success of 'I Got You Babe'.
Andrews was great & you could really see the wide-eyed innocence of the young girl & how she fell head over heels in love with Sonny. Throughout the show, her innocence never faltered & it was interesting to see the young Cher's perspective & sometimes disbelief at things that happen in her future.
Then 'Lady' takes over as chief storyteller, Lady is portrayed by Danielle Steers & we are taken through some of the most turbulent years of the story. From the success of the 'Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour', to her wanting to work less & stay at home with her child, onto to the realisation that Sonny was taking everything from her & then finally their divorce.
Steers gave a phenomenal performance. Not only was her voice fantastic but she really embodied the role & had small characteristics & Cher-isms, such as the hair toss, that were so on point it was as if she was actually channeling Cher. If I had to pick a favourite of the three, which is difficult, then it would be Steers.
After Lady we meet 'Star'. Star becomes the Cher that we still know & love today & this incarnation was portrayed by the sensational Debbie Kurup. With Star we experience her troubled marriage with Greg Allman & her relationship with Rob Camiletti. This is where we really see her really grow into the icon she is today, with her Broadway debut, her movie successes, her continued hits & her numerous farewell tours!
Kurup has a powerful voice & performs with almost effortless ease. She develops the character into the strong but caring woman the world loves. She has Cher's trademark sass, even referring to the audience as bitches!
All three versions bring something different & I found the way that it was staged really interesting & thrilling. All three performers sounded like Cher & embodied their era totally which was a joy to watch.
They each shared moments with the pivotal character of Sonny Bono who was brought convincingly to life by Lucas Rush. Rush is obviously a very accomplished performer & he really drew you in. You both loved him & hated him & he gave exactly what you wanted & expected from Sonny. It would be so easy to make this character into a bit of a joke or comedy sidekick, which would have been completely wrong. He had a good singing voice & his final interaction with Kurup was a beautiful moment.
Guy Woolf (understudy) portrayed a number of characters including Greg Allman, Rob Camiletti & Phil Spector & was great as each of them. You really felt as if you were watching different characters & not just the same actor but in a different costume which is sometimes a danger, especially if some are quite close together in the storyline as they were here.
Jake Mitchell's Bob Mackie was fabulously camp & outrageous & Tori Scott's Georgia Holt (Cher's mother) was sassy, forceful & loving. Both had great energy.
The ensemble which included Jordan Anderton, Samantha Ivey & Aston Newman Hannington worked so hard throughout the performance & their energy levels never dropped. They all looked like they were having the time of their lives & the choreography by Oti Mabuse was fresh & breathtaking. The guys & girls danced it so well with perfect timing which helped to lift the production even higher.
At first glance, the set, designed by Tom Rogers, seemed very industrial & perhaps not what you'd expect from a production about one of the worlds most flamboyant stars. However, when you took the time to really look at it you could see that it was filled with rows of garment bags which made you wonder what extreme costumes would be inside.
The stage was framed by a display of wigs which gave a nod to some of Cher's most iconic looks. So from what at first looked a bit bland & monotone, came excitement & anticipation before the show had even begun.
The set actually served the production very well & I loved the creative ways in which the years were displayed throughout to let the audience know where we were in the story.
Coupled with a superb lighting design by Ben Cracknell & direction by Arlene Philips, this show looked as good as it sounded! This was the first time I had personally known Philips as a director rather than a choreographer & I thought that she had done a tremendous job with the staging of this production.
When I was watching, I thought that some of the costumes were reminiscent of the musical Six so I was not surprised to learn that Gabriella Slade was costume designer for both shows. The attention to detail in the costumes was phenomenal, I just wish that the ensembles costumes had been slightly more flamboyant, although what they had was universal so understand the choices.
Written by Rick Elice, who wrote Jersey Boys, the story is captivating & the songs are very well woven through the story. I especially liked the way they kept coming back to the song 'Believe' & it made you look at this song in a whole new way.
The different arrangements to songs were a joy to listen to & the subtle changes to some lyrics here & there worked well & were creative & a nice surprise.
Overall there were about 35 songs squeezed into the show & although we didn't hear full versions of them all, it really showed what a great back catalogue Cher has.
When we got to the finale the whole audience were up on their feet & there was a real party atmosphere. It's so refreshing to go to a musical that has such a long finale/curtain call as often I find them too short & I want to do a bit more singing & dancing!
If you want a great night out then The Cher Show is a guaranteed high-octane adrenaline rush filled with great songs, a wonderful story & world class performances. Don't miss it!
For me, there were elements or influences from other shows throughout which I liked. I was reminded of shows such as Jersey Boys, Chicago, Six, & Priscilla!
The Cher Show is at Plymouth until Saturday 25th June & is touring the UK until March 2023. All tour dates can be found at www.cheronstage.com. If you're in the South West & can't get to Plymouth this week the show will be at the Bristol Hippodrome 24th-28th January 2023 & at Torquay's Princess Theatre 14th-18th February 2023.
Please note: all views are my own & I pride myself on being honest & free from influence.