Birmingham Hippodrome – until 6th August 2022
Reviewed by Emma Millward
Based on the book by Rick Elice, The Cher Show tells the story of the highs and lows of the career of Cher. It first premiered in Chicago in 2018. This new touring production is directed by Arlene Phillips (Strictly Come Dancing) with choreography from former Strictly Professional Oti Mabuse.
In the show, Debbie Kurrup, Danielle Steers and Millie O’ Connell each play Cher in three stages of her life; Babe (O’Connell), Lady (Steers) and Star (Kurrup). All three appear on stage together throughout most of the show and it’s a really clever way of showing the changing personalities and attitudes of Cher as she progresses through her career. Throughout the show, the background props and backdrops are used to let us know exactly which year of Cher’s life we are seeing. Although the songs don’t necessarily appear in the chronological order that Cher herself released them.
First we met Babe, the teenage Cher of the 1950s-1960s and her mother, Georgia (Tori Scott). Babe is a shy and awkward girl who finds a sense of security within Sonny Bono (Lucas Rush) and their ‘Sonny and Cher’ partnership. Millie O’ Connell perfectly captured the young Cher’s naivety and innocence. Their performance of Sonny and Cher’s first ‘Top of the Pops’ performance in London was brilliant and both actors nailed their characters’ movements and mannerisms.
Next we met Lady, the 1970’s version of Cher. She is now confident and starting to realise her partnership with Sonny is not as equal as she thought. Danielle Steers is brilliant as the wise-cracking Cher who makes fun of Bono’s height on their television show. She also showcased her amazing vocal talents, especially during ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). During this section we meet Bob Mackie (Jake Mitchell), the man responsible for Cher’s most flamboyant outfits over the years. ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do’ was a personal favourite of mine, showcasing both Oti Mabusi’s choreography and Jake Mitchell’s camp and cheeky mannerisms as Mackie.
Finally, we met Star, the late 1970s onwards incarnation of Cher. We follow the older Cher as she starts her pursuit of finding success as an actress, despite people often belittling her attempts. But Cher being Cher, she doesn’t give up and receives an Academy Award for her hard work. Although all three versions of Cher are amazing, for me, Debbie Kurup captures the vocals of Cher perfectly. But that could be because she gets the most famous and powerful songs to sing, such as ‘’Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves’ and ‘Just Like Jesse James’. The latter of which she sings with her second husband, Gregg Allman (Sam Ferriday, in one of the four roles he plays in the show). As a fan of the film Burlesque, I was pleased to see Diane Warren’s huge power ballad ‘You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me Yet’ appear in the show. All three actors nailed this song perfectly and the huge cheer from the crowd was well deserved.
The finale of the show got everyone on their feet (well, Cher/Star did insist we get our phones out and get up!) It turned into a full-on concert-like medley of Cher songs. ‘Believe’ and ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ definitely bought the house down. If you want a feel-good night of glitter, sequins, big hair and even bigger voices, then you definitely need to grab your tickets for the most fabulously flamboyant show in town.