Cher's got her own bio-musical! | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Cher's got her own bio-musical! 

Or how the diva triumphed over talent, with some help from Bob Mackie.

click to enlarge cher_show-1.jpg

courtesy Broadway in Chicago

Gloria Estefan's got one. So do the Four Seasons. Carole King's got a really good one. Even Motown's got one, and that's a record company. I guess Cher figured it was her turn for a biographical Broadway musical—though I don't understand why, since she was never all that interesting or good, and she doesn't qualify as a phenomenon except insofar as she's been able to parlay her not-that-goodness into a remarkably durable career. A seemingly endless one too.

Go and figure. I remember Cher's first public incarnation, as half of Sonny & Cher, wearing animal pelts and singing really stupid songs like "I Got You Babe" (sample lyric: "there ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb")—bad enough to become the symbol of Bill Murray's hell inGroundhog Day. They were like that trendsetter in A Hard Day's Night about whom George says, "She a drag—a well-known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things."

Written by Rick Elice, who also gave the Four Seasons their bio-musical, The Cher Show makes a sly subtext of the diva's triumph over talent. We hear her mother tell her it doesn't matter whether she can do anything because she's "special." Elice devotes a whole production number—the highlight of the show—to the flamboyant Bob Mackie gowns that were the real stars of her weekly TV shows and the probable source of her popularity as a sort of female drag queen. Tellingly, there aren't enough decent Cher hits to fill out the jukebox score. I mean, if "Bang Bang (He Shot Me Down)" has to serve as a recurring motif, you're in trouble.

The cast is strong—especially Michael Berresse as Mackie and Micaela Diamond as the youngest of the multiple Chers. But when this thing goes to Broadway, the Carole King show, Beautiful, will be playing nearby. See that.   v

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