My Variety Review: 'The Cher Show'
Choosing to recreate the spirit of the television variety shows that Sonny and Cher — and then Cher sans Sonny — headlined in the ‘70s is a choice that lands as flat as the jokes in Broadway’s latest jukebox bio, “The Cher Show.” Its attempt to celebrate the resilience of its “bad-ass” star and her half-century career of highs and lows rarely rises above that TV series’ taste for cliches, corn and cheese. Despite an icon with attitude, an armful of pop tunes and a can-do cast, the script never quite finds a satisfying style — or a genuine heart — as a winning stage musical. As Cher might say: Broadway’s a bitch.
You know a show’s in trouble when the moments that elicit the biggest applause of the night don’t even feature its title character. There’s a mini-fashion show featuring over-the-top outfits by original Cher designer Bob Mackie — who created the costumes for the musical — that’s a stunner of shameless excess. There’s also a dazzling number choreographed by Christopher Gattelli featuring a knockout dancer (Ashley Blair Fitzgerald) representing “The Dark Lady” of one of Cher’s songs.
As for the title character, a trio of actresses play Cher at various stages of the star’s career, echoing the threesome approach of the soon-to-be-shuttered Donna Summer musical. Here there’s a bit more banter in Rick Elice’s sketchy, every-scene-is-a song-cue script. The trio of cool babes wisecrack about each other’s life and career choices, buck each other up and repeat the same talking points again and again. (Cher’s really shy, but she’s also a “goddess warrior,” but she’s also a victim of manipulative men, but she also chooses her own destiny. Always, the songs make her strong, see? And they go something like this…)