The Dear Show – Theater Royal, Plymouth
I’m sure we could all sing along to a Cher hit or two and can probably also describe one of the star’s most eye-catching outfits that has become synonymous with her. She’s just always been there – always surprising us, morphing over the decades like a time-traveling chameleon, breaking the mold and most often speaking languages over the past six decades.
And do we realize how much she accomplished during that time? Over 100 million record sales, an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, three Golden Globes and an Oscar to boot.
This musical retraces the time spent on the life and career of the diva and on the men who have gone through the years. Many had great influences on her life, including her first husband Sonny Bono who launched her music career and fashion designer Bob Mackie who produced some of her most memorable costumes.
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But probably no one has influenced her more than her mother Georgia, it seems, who started her on the path to independence with her no-prisoner attitude and led her down the path of fighting the prejudice and resistance to those who misjudged her. Written by Tony-Award winner Rick Elice and first opened on Broadway in 2018, this production is the European premiere of The Cher Show and is directed by Arlene Philips with energetic choreography by Oti Mabuse.
It has all the big numbers you’d expect and a lot that I didn’t necessarily associate with Cher. Songs that are embedded in my psyche, many of them having been turned into dance hits in recent years, but I had never recorded that they were songs by Cher. The Beat Goes on and Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) for example provided some of the most slick and dramatic moments in the series which I loved.
I thought for a while that some new material had been written specifically for the musical but in fact it was a lot of his older 60s music that I hadn’t heard like You Better Sit Down Kid that was written by Sonny Bono as a father explaining divorce to his children. The story of this woman nicknamed the “Queen of Reinvention” is told by three versions of herself embodying three stages of her life by describing them as innocence (Babe), confidence (Lady) and experience (Star).
The three Chers were excellent but Danielle Steers as Lady provided me with the most believable of the night and gave the most power and passion to recreate her unique sound. Jake Mitchell as Bob Mackie was cheerful, and the chemistry of Sonny (Lucas Rush) and Babe (Jasmine Jules Andrews) was adorable and later emotional with Star (Debbie Kurup).
But with 35 issues, it almost takes too long and we race through the years with no real end that needed something bigger. Some sound issues on opening night were also disappointing. Cher fans will no doubt love it, but for those of us who aren’t, it’s a fun illustration of an incredible life lived in the spotlight.
The Cher Show runs at Plymouth’s Theater Royal until Saturday 25 June.