The Cher Show UK Tour - Theatre Royal Plymouth Review
Cher is an icon of the pop fame, that cannot be denied, and like many other famous faces of music such as Tina and Frankie Valli, she is the latest of a long line of world-famous talent to have their story brought to life on the stage in an all singing, all dancing jukebox musical.
She may have found super stardom in The Sonny and Cher Show, becoming half of an iconic double act but this production is all about her. The Cher Show follows the star’s journey from her teenage years dreaming of stardom through her rise to fame, her relationship with Sonny and other loves, fighting the ups and the downs of the fame rollercoaster from heavy workloads, family life, relationship breakdowns and near constant reinvention. Three leading ladies share the role of Cher, each telling the story of a different time in her life.
At this performance, the role of Babe, Cher in her innocent younger days, was played by Jasmine Jules Andrews in the absence of Millie O’ Connell, and this young star certainly has a big and bright future ahead of her. A real stand out performance as the bright-eyed fame hunting talent, drawn into the world of celebrity and into the world of Sonny, where love took over reason. Her vocals are particularly impressive, appearing effortless and truly showcasing the unique sound that made Cher stand out from the crowd.
Danielle Steers plays Lady, Cher at the time where it was all about The Sonny and Cher Show, all about celebrity and where work came above all else. A powerful performance highlighting Cher’s desire to slow down, concentrate on family and take control of her own life. Debbie Kurup plays Star, the reinvention of Cher away from the control of overbearing directors and the men around her who thought they knew better. She works for her stardom, putting herself out there in stage shows and movies that people may think are wrong for her, pushing herself to show what she is capable off and living her own life rather than one that others may want for her.
All three performances are powerhouses from these three leading ladies as they bring Cher’s story to life with drive and honesty, celebrating the highs but not sugar-coating the hard times. They are described as innocence, confidence and experience, the stages of Cher’s life. Throughout the production, all three of the women share the storytelling, appearing alongside different versions of themselves as they try to come to terms with what has happened in their life and try to decide what to do next.
Sonny, a pivotal person in Cher’s life, is played here by Lucas Rush who gives a commanding performance as the confident driven star. His chemistry with the three performers is believable and you can clearly see the influence that he had on Cher’s career, both in a positive and a negative way. Sam Ferriday plays multiple roles throughout, including her second husband Greg Allman and other partner Rob Camilletti, illustrating her want and need for companionship throughout her career. Jake Mitchell’s Bob Mackie proves to be a scene stealer at every appearance, displaying a natural flair for comedy. Tori Scott’s performance as Cher’s mother Georgia was also memorable.
With direction by Arlene Phillips and choreography by Oti Mabusi, you would expect this show to be pretty dance heavy, and The Cher Show certainly doesn’t disappoint. The ensemble set the stage alight with many an energetic dance number whilst playing multiple characters and combined with the incredible vocals, parts of the production feel more concert than stage show, much to the delight of the audience.
The staging is simplistic yet intricate, with tall cabinets of clothing racks and Cher’s iconic wigs lining the stage. Dressing room mirrors and simple set pieces create the scenes throughout, with the way in which the passing years are displayed proving particularly effective with dates scattered through set pieces, costumes, and lights.
At times, if I am being honest, I did find the lighting and the sound to be a tad overbearing. The music was just a bit too loud in places, and although it didn’t really drown out the vocals, from our position near the back of the stalls, the base could be felt in the floor, proving a little bit distracting and the lights were, at times, a little blinding.
Overall, The Cher Show is a couple of hours of pure entertainment, and whilst it may not tell you much that wasn’t already known about the career of Cher, it tells her story in a bright and clever new way, told truly from the star’s viewpoint. We see the ups and downs of stardom in an almost be careful what you wish for manner and having to deal with the consequences of certain decisions and how reinvention can make the best of a situation. The performances are incredible, showcasing triple threat performers at the top of their game.