THE CHER SHOW @ LYCEUM THEATRE
For a celebrity who has been around for more than half a century, there is certainly a lot to cover in the musical biopic, The Cher Show, which arrived at the Lyceum this week. From the early days with Sonny Bono to her mega-hit, Believe, the highs and lows of her life and career are charted in this new production from Arlene Philips and Oti Mabuse. Told in flashbacks, and with three actresses “Cher-ing” the lead role, The Cher Show takes a whistle-stop tour of the star’s personal life and musical career.
For someone who has been in the spotlight for so long and had such a lengthy career as Cher, it is difficult to pick and choose which aspects of their life to portray and which songs to highlight from such an extensive back catalogue, and this is something that the show tries to balance. There is simply so much to shoehorn into the two hour running time that the storyline often came across as relatively choppy, with each short scene portraying a different year of her life and generally being bookended by a musical number which was heavily abridged. Walking the line between hitting every significant event or focussing on and developing specific plot points is a difficult task, and one which the show slightly wavers on, and whilst it did feel disjointed at times, it wasn’t too much to its detriment.
Millie O’Connell, Danielle Steers and Debbie Kurup portrayed the star at different stages of her life, with Danielle Steers standing out from the trio with a confident yet natural performance, the most convincing vocal impersonation and a genuine stage presence; whilst Debbie Kurup brought the vocal gravitas, and Lucas Rush gave a scene-stealing turn as Sonny Bono, especially with his performance of I’ve Got You Babe.
Nestled amongst the script’s history, humour and histrionics, in any show like this the main event is the songbook, which was performed by a live orchestra and belted out with aplomb by the cast. At times, the musical arrangements on some of the songs felt like odd choices – reimagining some disco stompers as piano-based ballads didn’t always work, but when the musical numbers hit their stride, they were terrific fun.
There was an imaginative mixture of songs, from the ones you would expect, such as Believe, I Got You Babe and I Found Someone, and a number you wouldn’t, including Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me, Dov’è L’amore, and I Hope You Find It, making sure both new and old fans found something that they enjoyed. A vibrant and vivacious lighting design only added to the camp value of the first act as the swinging sixties burst into life in a cavalcade of kitsch, and the choreography and direction from the two Strictly stalwarts was as tight, varied, slick and imaginative as you would anticipate.
As cramped as the show sometimes feels, you can certainly say that it doesn’t skimp on the life events or songs throughout its runtime and there is a real energy to the production, It celebrates the highs, doesn’t shy away from the lows, and has enough upbeat pop fun for every generation of Cher fan to get something out of what is an ultimately enjoyable enough evening at the theatre.