The book by Rick Elice for “The Cher Show” musical assumes that Cher is such a complicated icon that three actresses are needed to play her at different stages of her life as well as discuss things within herself. This gives three actresses main roles--Micaela Diamond as Babe, Teal Wicks as Lady, and Stephanie J. Block as Cher the star. While the first two are good, this is sensational actress-singer Block’s show as she turns in a rousing performance.
But “The Cher Show” is primarily a flashy expedition into Cher’s life, embraced by glittering scenic backgrounds, dazzling lighting effects and enormous projections of conversations on stage. Above all there are the eye-popping, wildly conceived elaborate outfits for the Chers and the ensemble created by costume designer Bob Mackie, also a character in the show played by Michael Berresse.
There’s little depth to the book as it attempts to span developments in Cher’s life and career. In the second act the effort to sandwich in bio becomes over-extended and heavy. But seeking depth is not the show’s primary thrust. The main attraction is pure glitz, the kind that sets off applauding by Cher enthusiasts, who glory in the parade of familiar songs, with music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Daryl Waters. Block gets chances to turn on her personal vocal power to well-earned ovations. She also manages to nail the right tones in Cher’s speaking voice.
There is a very busy chorus of male and female singers and dancers (choreography by Christopher Gattelli). Of course, there is Sonny Bono (Jarrod Spector) who woos Cher, and takes control as they move up the show biz ladder, control she bitterly resents. Later Bono returns as ghost after his accidental death in a ski accident.
We see Cher fall for Gregg Allman (Matthew Hydzik). (Cher has her daughter, Chastity, with Bono but Chastity is not seen in the show as coming out as Chaz, a transgender male). Cher longs for independence and controlling her life. Among other characters, Cher’s mother is played by Emily Skinner. We also get imitations of the Cherelles and the Dave Clark Five, as well as a Lucille Ball cameo.
“The Cher Show” isn’t for anyone looking for profundity. But it is a sweeping juke-box bio with a chance to ooh and ah at the costumes and enjoy performance highlights in the triple-duty depictions of Cher, and as previously pointed out, particularly the stint of Block as Cher, the star. At the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd Street. Phone: 877-250-2929. Reviewed December 6, 2018.