The Cher Show: This Must Be What Candy Floss Tastes Like
The Cher Show: A New Musical
The Cher Show. All photos by Pamela Raith Photography
hits the Bradford Alhambra this week (26 - 29 October 2022) and it packs in more Cher songs than you even knew you knew. As the show's publicity machine so accurately says: "It's a roller-coaster ride through Cher's life as Goddess warrior of pop turned Hollywood royalty, from a young kid with big dreams, to the dizzying heights of global stardom".
The production makes clever use of three performers with belting voices to illustrate three phases of the Cher's life, and they rather neatly interact with each other, and even share a few fine jokes. If you are a Cher fan and just want to wallow in the songs then you will love this production.
Last night's audience of hundreds seemed to revel in every big number and, as far as I could tell, the number of dissenters could be counted on the fingers of one finger - and, oh dear, that was me.
The show opens with a rather spartan but well dressed stage of steel poles enclosing racks of costumes and wigs. There's plenty of visual interest to start with, but that's your lot. For the next couple hours nothing changes, apart from two moving staircases being dragged out and wheeled round, perhaps to give the show some much-needed three dimensionality.
The costumes are boring. And that's really the last thing we should expect from a Cher show - the girl is famous for her over-the-top cosies. Where's bling? I expected wall to wall glitter, but the lighting designer obviously made a pact with the costume designer to replace the sparkles with strobe lights flashing in the audience's eyes. It didn't work.
Danielle Steers as Lady. Finally some bling!
We were promised direction by Arlene Phillips (Grease, Starlight Express), choreography by Oti Mabuse (double Strictly winner) and costumes by Gabriella Slade (Spice World Tour, SIX), but not one of these delivered for me.
In terms of choreography; just imagine what our two local talents, Northern Ballet or Phoenix Dance, would have done. They would have added creativity and striven to enrich the thinly conceived narrative. Rather than that we had a bunch of performers auditioning for the panto instead of driving the story, not even injecting some much needed passion into the piece.
And all this negativity is rather disappointing as there was some real talent on show: the three Chers all had huge, powerful voices and I would like to have heard them unencumbered by the compulsory peg-on-the-nose sound required to emulate the maestro herself. In addition, the sound felt a little unbalanced with the backing track sometimes became a leading track, with singers wailing in the distance, often 'accompanied' by an acoustic weapon of a bassline.
Looking back at the show I remember all the songs, some brief glimpses into Cher's extraordinary life, but nothing more. Where was the pathos, the passion, the heart-rending moments that are just brushed over in a headlong rush to the next big song? This show trivialises Cher's extraordinary life rather than illustrating it and for me this production is Candy Floss - all sugar rush with no substance.
Should you go and see it? Well, if you like Cher music and just want a rumbustious sing along, then, yes, this is for you. But if you want theatre that illustrates the utterly extraordinary life of this amazing woman, then, no.
Back to the publicity: In a winning pun it says "Cher the love". I'd love to. The songs are great and were well performed, but as to Cher the woman, I'm none the wiser. This could have been so much more than a sing-along, but it wasn't.
The Cher Show continues on tour, and northern venues are:
Bradford, Alhambra Theatre, 25 - 29 Oct 2022
York, Grand Opera House, 15 - 19 Nov 2022
Liverpool, Empire, 17 - 21 Jan 2023
Darlington, Hippodrome, 7 - 11 Feb 2023