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The Cher Show at Theatre Royal Brighton

If the audience reaction at the end of the first night of The Cher Show’s two-week residency is anything to go by, Brighton’s Theatre Royal is going to experience another huge success in its Autumn programme: everyone seemingly clapping and cheering and singing along as if in dire need of some ‘feel good’ entertainment!

Yet, in a strange way, it is not a ‘feel good’ show!

THE CHER SHOW - LtoR Millie O'Connell, Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers, credit Matt Crockett.
THE CHER SHOW – LtoR Millie O’Connell, Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers, credit Matt Crockett.

The Cher Show was first staged in Chicago in 2018 before running for nine months on Broadway. Like so many other recent shows it is a “jukebox” musical, using a score culled from thirty-five of Cher’s many hits. It tells the story of Cher’s life and loves, highs and lows, and especially her many ‘comebacks’. The role of Cher is shared between three actors: Millie O’Connell as ‘Babe’, who plays her in the 1950s and 1960s, Danielle Steers as ‘Lady’ in the 1970s and Debbie Kurup as ‘Star’ in the 1980s and 1990s. The three are on stage most of the time, interreacting with each other. Each has an individual singing style which puts over the many songs with energy and panache.

Guy Woolf is superb in the role of ‘Sonny’, not only looking and sounding the part, but also convincingly ageing as the timeline progresses. Tori Scott convinces as Georgia, Cher’s mother, and Sam Ferriday manages to differentiate the four roles he plays with a great deal of success. The company is completed by a highly skilled and talented company of twelve backing singers and dancers who, like the rest of the cast, throw themselves into the task with a great deal of commitment.

The book, by Rick Elice, is disappointingly downbeat, even playing down Cher’s Academy Award, and the dialogue often appears stilted, even if the cast do everything they can to convince us otherwise! In fact, most of the audience would probably have been a lot happier if the dialogue had been completely omitted, and there was just the music!

The simple but effective set design, using the full height of the stage – row upon row of hanging costumes in grey bags – is by Tom Rogers, superbly and inventively lit by Ben Cracknell. Likewise the multitude of costumes, the work of Gabriella Slade, not slavish copies of the originals but always being stunningly effective.

Danny Belton conducted the band of 3 guitars, keyboards and drums, slimmed down from the original orchestration and therefore sometimes having a job to sound like the original Cher arrangements, especially as the bass drum was rather too dominant throughout!! (sound design Dan Samson)

Very apt choreography, presumably based on the originals, is by Oti Mabuse and overall direction by Arlene Phillips.

The hard-working cast ensures that the audience is not disappointed and leaves the show smiling and humming the ‘encore’ numbers! My advice is to forget the dialogue and enjoy the music – but go and see The Cher Show.

Recommended!!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

Music icon turned Hollywood royalty, the Grammy®, Oscar®, Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning Queen of re-invention has conquered it all. It’s now time to turn back time with this fiercely fabulous kick-ass new musical, from the writer of Jersey Boys.

Three Chers are better than one! Three West End stars play Cher as we span her iconic career: Millie O’Connell (SIX, RENT) as BABE, Danielle Steers (Bat Out of Hell, SIX) as LADY and the Olivier Award-nominated Debbie Kurup (Prince of Egypt, The Bodyguard) as the ultimate diva, STAR.

The Cher Show tells the incredible story of Cher’s meteoric rise to fame, flying in the face of convention at every turn. This HUGE new production features a fresh take on her show-stopping costumes which earned her the title of “the ruler of outré reinvention” (VOGUE).

In a dazzling glitter fest sparkling with Cher’s signature wit and style to the sounds of her biggest hits, including If I Could Turn Back Time, Strong Enough, Gypsies Tramps and Thieves, The Shoop Shoop Song, I Got You Babe, and Believe.

Written by Tony award-winning Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), this brand new UK production is directed by Arlene Phillips (Grease, Starlight Express), choreographed by Oti Mabuse (double Strictly Come Dancing winner), with costumes by Gabriella Slade (Spice World Tour, SIX).

Book now for a joyous party musical fit for the Queen of pop.

The Cher Show at Theatre Royal Brighton

1 – 12 November Brighton Theatre Royal 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for Theatre Royal Brighton

15 – 19 November York Grand Opera House 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for Grand Opera House York

22 – 26 November Ipswich Regent Theatre
ipswichtheatres.co.uk

3 – 7 January 2023 Southampton Mayflower Theatre 02380 711811
www.mayflower.org.uk on sale 25 May

10 – 14 January Northampton Royal & Derngate 01604 624811
www.royalandderngate.co.uk on sale soon

17 – 21 January Liverpool Empire Theatre 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for Liverpool Empire

24 – 28 January Bristol The Hippodrome 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for Bristol Hippodrome

31 January – 4 February Wimbledon New Wimbledon Theatre 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for New Wimbledon Theatre

7 – 11 February Darlington Hippodrome 01325 405405
www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk

14 – 18 February Torquay Princess Theatre 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for Princess Theatre

21 – 25 February Oxford New Theatre 0844 871 7615*
Book Tickets for New Theatre Oxford

28 February – 4 March Llandudno Venue Cymru 01492 872000
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7 – 11 March Norwich Theatre Royal 01603 630 000
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14 – 18 March Carlisle The Sands Centre 0333 33 55055
www.thesandscentre.co.uk

Further dates to be announced
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Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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