Tonight, Chicago gets the first look at The Cher Show, the latest in what has become a 21st-century subgenre of Broadway musicals: the pop-star jukebox biography. The new production turns back time to canvas Cher’s life and 50-plus-year career using her plethora of chart hits. Here’s everything that we “Believe” we know. Catch The Cher Show at the Oriental Theatre June 12–July 15.
1. Three actors for three eras of Cher.
Tony Award nominee Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos, 9 to 5), Broadway regular Teal Wicks (Wicked, Finding Neverland) and an 18-year-old newcomer, Micaela Diamond, split the diva duties to represent Cher at different ages and stages in her career. A similar gambit was attempted just this spring by another Broadway bio, the roundly panned Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Unlike Summer, though, Cher’s Chers talk to one another: The show is structured like a fantasy episode from one of the singer’s many variety shows, allowing her various selves to interact.
2. Her most-significant significant others are present, too.
Sonny Bono is played by Jarrod Spector, who was Tony-nominated for his role as Barry Mann in another pop-star bio, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Matthew Hydzik personifies Gregg Allman, and even “bagel boy” Rob Camilletti (Wicked vet Michael Campayno) makes an appearance. Plus, Tony nominee Emily Skinner acts as Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt.
3. The creative team has a solid track record.
The show’s book is by Rick Elice, who helped jump-start the jukebox trend as cowriter of the massively popular Jersey Boys, about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Jason Moore (Avenue Q) is the director. And the costumes are designed, naturally, by Cher’s longtime gown maker, Bob Mackie, who also shows up as a character in the musical.
4. Cher’s hits are reinvented and rearranged to serve the story.
The creators have plenty of tracks to choose from: Cher has racked up 33 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 (51 if you count her duets with Sonny Bono). But Moore told Rolling Stone in April that you shouldn’t expect them to appear in chronological order: The 1999 dance hit “Strong Enough” is used to underscore Cher’s relationship with Sonny, for instance, and “Believe” is retooled as a wistful ballad.
5. The Cher Show won’t get Cher to EGOT.
It’s true that Cher already has an Emmy (Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special for 2003’s Cher: The Farewell Tour), a Grammy (Best Dance Recording, “Believe”) and an Oscar (Best Actress, for 1987’s Moonstruck). And with The Cher Show scheduled for a Broadway bow this December, it will be eligible for next year’s Tony Awards. But unless she signs on as a producer of The Cher Show, Cher won’t personally be eligible in any of the categories. Still, maybe this experience will get her itching to act on Broadway again. This show’s not over yet.