The Cher Show – A New Musical. The Birmingham Hippodrome, 02/08/22 5***** David Gray & Paul Gray

A later-years Cher sits alone and dejected in her dressing room. She sings a few bars of a well-
known song in such a way as to suggest she no longer believes in life after love. Suddenly she is
joined by two other versions of herself, a young Cher and a middle years Cher, and decides to take
them and us on a journey through her life.

Now this is a rather contrived framing device but a useful one. As they journey together through their memories, the interaction between the three versions of Cher, each with their own perspectives, allows for a surprisingly rich exploration of this remarkable life. Moreover, because it comes from an unreal multiplicity of perspectives, the musical is free to adopt an unreal narrative approach. The result is fluid, economical storytelling. There is no padding here; everything is on point and focussed.

This fluidity is complemented and facilitated by a very slick and polished production – visually lavish
but, in its practicalities, quite simple. The script is nimble and witty, with an extremely strong cast who
never for a moment lose energy or momentum. Millie O’Connell, Danielle Steers and Debbie Kurup
as the three Chers are all vocal powerhouses; they each give us engaging and fully realised
versions of the star as she evolves though life.

Their strength as performers is evidenced by the fact they manage to shine so brightly when the
supporting cast is so strong. Lucas Rush as Sonny is a vocal match for each of them, and convincingly
inhabits his complex, ambiguous and ultimately very nasty character.

The show does have a slight structural problem. Much of the first half deals with Cher’s career as a
light entertainer. The music from this period lacks emotional heft. The second half, which deals
with her career as a power-balladeer, is packed with power-ballads and is perhaps a bit emotionally overwrought. Maybe the unreal framing device would have allowed for a less chronological treatment, resulting in a more musically balanced show. Nonetheless, this is terrific music, terrifically performed by a flawless cast and band.

At the end, we return to the dressing room and resolution through the integration of self as the
three Chers embrace what has happened in their life and are able to move on together. It’s an
empowering conclusion but also a poignant one. This has been the story of three friends who are
one person. The only person there for Cher has been Cher, oh, and her mother of course, Georgia,
played with warmth and humour by Tori Scott: WOW, Scott has a beautiful, radiant voice; this is someone to watch!

As a Finale the three Chers and the rest of the cast stress the empowering message of the show by
belting out a mash-up some of her greatest hits. The audience goes wild, and rightly so. Outstanding.

Star – Debbie Kurup
Lady – Danielle Steers
Babe – Millie O’Connell
Sonny – Lucas Rush
Bob Mackie – Jake Mitchell
Greg Allman/Rob Camilletti/Phil Spector/John Southall – Sam Ferriday
Georgia – Tori Scott
Director – Arlene Phillips
Choreographer – Oti Mabuse
Costume Designer – Gabriella Slade
Set Designer – Tom Rogers
Musical Director – Rich Morris
Lighting Designer – Ben Cracknell
Sound Designer – Dan Samson

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