The Cher Show (UK Tour): Marlowe Theatre, London
14th June 2022
Music icon turned Hollywood royalty, the Grammy®, Oscar®, Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning Queen of re-invention has had six decades of stardom and over a hundred million records sold. Now comes her story. From the writers of Jersey Boys, The Cher Show tells the amazing story of Cher’s incredible career to date featuring some of her much loved songs such as ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, ‘Strong Enough‘, ‘I Got You Babe‘, and ‘Believe‘. Told with not just one Cher but three . One portraying her in the 1950s and 60s (nicknamed “Babe”), one for the 1970s (nicknamed “Lady”), and one for the 1980s and 90s (nicknamed “Star”). The three interact with each other and help each other out at various points.
Of course, Cher is well known for her iconic style and the costumes, designed by recent Tony Award winner Gabriella Slade, do not hold back. They shimmer, glisten and shine throughout the show. Each costume sparkles and fits the actor perfectly. Each of Slade’s costumes for the three Chers are slightly different to incorporate each character’s story and personality. The ensemble, or Cher’s entourage as they are referred to, remain in the same costume throughout – a jazzy little unisex number. This allows the audience to fully appreciate Cher’s costumes and how can you not when they are literally shining on the stage.
Arlene Philips and Oti Mabuse have done an excellent job to choreograph this jam-packed musical. The dances are reminiscent of the time but also feel modern and current. The cast are excellent and each step is completely synchronised and in time to the music. Including a tap section, a Bolero of sorts, hip-hop commercial style and even some of Sonny and Cher’s original moves they have been able to use a range of dance genres to tell Cher’s story.
Debbie Kurup is every bit the diva as Cher. She plays ‘Star’ who is relieving her past whilst trying to put together the ultimate farewell concert (something we know that Cher has had several of). She plays the confident, caring, almost mothering role of the 3 Cher’s and Kurup is brilliant in role. She wears her heart on her sleeve and really embodies Cher throughout. Utterly believable, she shines from the moment she steps onstage and this is before she opens her mouth to sing. Kurup’s voice is immaculate and sounds like Cher without sounding forced. Due to the indisposition of Millie O’Connell (Babe) and Danielle Steers (Lady) the two central roles were played by Jasmine Jules Andrews and Ingrid Olivia respectively during this performance. Andrews plays the young, innocent Cher with a tangible timidity as Cher finds her way into the business and meets Sonny (played brilliantly by Lucas Rush). Her vocals are powerful and yet reserved at the same time. She shows Cher’s shyness and anxiety perfectly and her blossoming relationship with Sonny shines through, even later in the show when the Cher’s offer narration or commentary on the events in Cher’s life she stays true to her first love. Ingrid Olivia’s portrayal of Lady, the successful but overworked young star is also very good. There are times when the dialogue is tricky to decipher due to her slightly forced accent but she more than makes up for that during the outstanding song ‘Bang Bang‘. The entire cast excel throughout the show and work tirelessly to keep up with the fast paced nature of the show. After all, there is almost six decades of Cher’s life to cram into a show of just over two hours.
The set, designed by Tom Rogers, is used well. The backdrop remains the same throughout but the show, and its progress through the decades, uses plenty of large set pieces. At times the set pieces are almost blink and you miss them and are not always utilised as well as they could be. However, they do a great job of progressing through the show, enabling the audience to fully understand what year the action is taking place in. The star of the show though, sorry Cher, has to be the incredible lighting designed by Ben Cracknell. The lighting is some of the best, if not the best seen onstage at the moment. From the very opening number where the auditorium quickly shifts to feel like an arena to some of the more serious scenes, the lighting truly sets the scene and tells the story. The musical numbers, dance and book are excellent but the lighting brings it to life and makes what could be a good show into an exceptional show.
Cher is an icon, a queen and this show captures this perfectly. Whether you are a fan or not, you simply have to be in the audience of this incredible musical. It is more than just a musical jukebox or biographical musical – it is an event. So turn back time and relieve the decades with The Cher Show.
Photo Credit: Pamela Raith