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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW: THE CHER SHOW @ THE THEATRE ROYAL

🎭 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 and we're invited to turn back time (pun intended!) as we look at the soaring highs and 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 and interacted with each other. It was like Cher wrestling with her thoughts, memories, fears and aspirations which was interesting and 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 and discovering her love for music, through to her leaving home and meeting Sonny Bono, being rejected by as a solo singer by Phil Spector and to the release and huge success of I Got You Babe.


Andrews was great and you could really see the wide-eyed innocence of the young girl and how she fell head over heels in love with Sonny. Throughout the show, her innocence never faltered and it was interesting to see the young Cher's perspective and sometimes disbelief at things that happen in her future.


Then Lady takes over as chief storyteller, Lady is portrayed by Danielle Steers and we are taken through some of the most turbulent years of the story. From the success of the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, to her wanting to work less and stay at home with her child, onto to the realisation that Sonny was taking everything from her and then finally their divorce.


Steers gave a phenomenal performance. Not only was her voice fantastic but she really embodied the role and had small characteristics and 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 and love today and this incarnation was portrayed by the sensational Debbie Kurup. With Star we experience her troubled marriage with Greg Allman and 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 and her numerous farewell tours!


Kurup has a powerful voice and 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 and I found the way that it was staged really interesting and thrilling. All three performers sounded like Cher and 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 and he really drew you in. You both loved him and hated him and he gave exactly what you wanted and 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 and his final interaction with Kurup was a beautiful moment.


Guy Woolf (understudy) portrayed a number of characters including Greg Allman, Rob Camiletti and Phil Spector and was great as each of them. You really felt as if you were watching different characters and 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 and outrageous and Tori Scott's Georgia Holt (Cher's mother) was sassy, forceful and loving. Both had great energy.


The ensemble which included Jordan Anderton, Samantha Ivey and Aston Newman Hannington worked so hard throughout the performance and their energy levels never dropped. They all looked like they were having the time of their lives and the choreography by Oti Mabuse was fresh and breathtaking. The guys and 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 and 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 and monotone, came excitement and anticipation before the show had even begun.


The set actually served the production very well and 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 and 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 and 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 and the songs are very well woven through the story. I especially liked the way they kept coming back to the song Believe and it made you look at this song in a whole new way.


The different arrangements to songs were a joy to listen to and the subtle changes to some lyrics here and there worked well and were creative and a nice surprise.


Overall there were about 35 songs squeezed into the show and 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 and 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 and I want to do a bit more singing and 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 and 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.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


Please note: all views are my own & I pride myself on being honest & free from influence.



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