By Conor O’Neill
35 songs, some of which I knew, others buried deep within my memory The Cher Show was something I’d never expected. Thinking it was just another jukebox musical with some sort of loose plot to tie it all together, I can’t quite say from the off I was expecting a good night.
Boy, was I wrong. Little surprise considering the show won rave reviews on its 2018 Broadway release, and is written by Tony and Olivier Award winning Rick Elice.
There are three Chers on offer here, going in chronological order we have Babe (Olivier nominated – Millie O’Connell) Lady (Danielle Sheers) and finally Star (Debbie Karup). We of course start off with the junior Cher. Babe is a difficult child, dyslexic, olive-skinned and dark-haired due to wayward father’s Armenian heritage, Cher wants nothing more but to sing. Hence her move to Los Angeles aged a mere 16.
Enter Sonny, 12 years her senior and charming… to begin with. I Got You Babe sells three million copies and the two are on their way up. But Sonny, superbly played by Lucas Rush, is not all he seems.
Another pivotal character in her life is showman and fashionista, Bob Mackie (Jake Mitchell – pictured above). The two both care for and in their own ways misuse the innocence of Babe, but that’ll never last. Never having time to see her child and flying to place to place takes its toll.
With the music career on the rock Sonny’s brilliant new idea is The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour which runs for three years with record crowds. But now’s the time for Lady to be born. And with it the end of the ill-fated first marriage.
An hour and 10 minutes in sees the interval, and how my mood has changed. There’s talent on show everywhere. From the direction by Arlene Phillips to the choreography of double Strictly Come Dancing winner Oti Mabuse. The 12 strong ensemble and Sonny, Babe and Mackie tap dance scene must be seen to be believed.
Lady sees a more confident Cher, but one still somehow lost. Enter second hubby, country rock singer Gregg Allman (Sam Ferriday) Allman sees nothing wrong with draining bottles and snorting powder. The Lady has had enough of lousy men in her life and marriage number two is soon on the rocks.
Now at 40-years-old Lady finds a toyboy, Rob Camiletti (pictured above) ,again played by Ferriday. Camiletti hates the constant paparazzi intrusion and possibly her only true love is driven away by her success in film as she wins the best actress Oscar for Moondance.
It should be mentioned that throughout Lady’s story, Babe still features, and things get stranger again as Lady turns to Star.
Now here’s the Cher we all grew up knowing. The confident, demure and force of nature. The rest of the second act is a rejoice of her career that has saw her sell 100 million records.
The six-piece band lead by musical director Danny Belton play their hearts out. All the tunes are here from Believe to Turn Back Time, I Got You Babe, The Shoop Shoop Song, Song For The Lonely, Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves and too many more for me to write.
The six song finale sees all of the 1000 plus Grand Opera House audience on its feet and singing along.
You’ll simply love this biopic of a musical.
The Cher Show runs up to and including Saturday, May 28th with a matinee on the Saturday.
To get your tickets visit http://www.goh.co.uk or phone the box office on 02890 241919