The Cher Show – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review
by Fran Winston
The Cher Show – Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 1
Runs daily (except Sundays) until July 30th at 7.30pm nightly. Matinees 2.30pm Thursdays and Saturdays.
I’ve had the absolute pleasure of seeing pop goddess Cher live in the past and her show is exactly as spectacular, over the top and camp as you would expect. Cher exudes such infectious energy and attitude that it is impossible not to get sucked into the sheer joy of it. Her shows are as big as her personality so it is no small task to expect someone to recreate that, never mind her very distinctive voice and attitude. Let’s face it Cher has more moxy in her little finger than most people have in their entire bodies.
Perhaps this is why the role of the icon is undertaken by not one but three actors here. Each one plays her at a particular point in her life and career. There is Babe (Millie O’Connell) who takes us through the early years, meeting Sonny Bono, her first flush of success and into the early 70s.
At this point, Lady (Danielle Steers) takes over bringing us on a journey through the Vegas and TV years and the breakdown of her relationship with Sonny. Finally, we meet Star (Debbie Kurup) who takes us through Cher’s reinvention as an Oscar-winning actress and rock chick in the 80s and 90s before she becomes a disco diva with her smash hit song Believe. All three do an excellent job of capturing their era’s Cher while working almost as a living triptych during segues and exposition.
The problem with Cher’s life is that she has done so much that it is impossible to cram it all in. Each decade of her life would make a show in itself. This means that some parts of her story feel glossed over and indeed it is as if they rush through the 60s and 70s in order to get to the fully formed Diva of the 80s and beyond. However, they do touch on all her important relationships and milestones.
As they document her highs and lows and everything in between we are treated to 35 of her hits peppered throughout. From 60s classics such as I Got You Babe and And The Beat Goes On to her 70s hits such as Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves and Dark Lady and of course her iconic 80s tracks like I Found Someone and We All Sleep Alone and everything else right through to the aforementioned Believe.
The (surprisingly sparse) stage is brought to life with spectacular lighting and clever use of roll-on scenery. And, of course, the costumes are glittering and camptastic. Cher has never been one to shy away from a bit of sparkle (particularly after she met legendary designer Bob Mackie) and that is very much reflected here. There may be a national glitter shortage as so much has been used on the stunning outfits on display here.
Like many “jukebox” musicals the songs aren’t chronological but rather selected for how they suit the scene (and occasionally the lyrics have been slightly altered to make them more relevant to the moment). This does give the impression that some of them have been somewhat shoehorned in. But they are great tracks and the three leads all do them justice so it works on the whole. Although clearing the rights to the music must have been a nightmare with so many writers involved.
Directed by the legendary Arlene Phillips and with choreography by Strictly’s Oti Mabuse, the female gaze is very much on display here and it really works. The script is incredibly self-deprecating and witty. It raises a laugh within the first few minutes and manages to maintain that momentum. Between that and the infectious set pieces, this has you smiling from the off. It may be a (slightly) less ambitious production than the actual Cher’s stage show but it is still a spectacular sing-along that leaves you with a spring in your step and a grin on your face.
Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review
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