By: Cailey Griffin
The Cher Show – A New Musical dazzled the Chicago audience opening night on June 28th. The Cher Show is currently on its Pre-Broadway run in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre through July 15th.
When I first arrived at The Cher Show, there was a clear wave of excitement rushing through the theatre. People were dressed in their best evening attire, sporting eager smiles and a fast paced stride to get into the theatre. Opening night of course brought in tons of Chicago natives who were over the moon that the musical on the road to steal the hearts of America made its first stop in Chicago. There were also several people rushing past me to find their seats, who I overheard talk about their lengthy journey all the way from Michigan and even as far as New York.
The couple sitting next to my mom and I echoed the same enthusiasm as the rest of the theatre. They frantically shared with us their hope that Cher herself would be at the theatre and make a dramatic appearance at the end of the production. That didn’t happen but Cher has taken the time to come to Chicago to see the musical. She showed up the weekend before the June 28th opening night to see a preview of the show.
According to Darel Jevens of the Sun Times, Cher spoke to the Chicago Tribune and said that the production “needs work,” and, “in many parts, it was much, much better than I thought it would be.” It’s fair that Cher wants a story dedicated to her life to be as perfect and accurate as possible, but the fact that she even gave her stamp of approval claiming it exceeded her expectations speaks highly of the show.
Like Cher, the show also exceeded my expectations, so much so, that I believe the show will be nominated for a Tony Award when it hits broadway. So what is it about the show that warrants the stamp of approval of the queen herself, and Tony Award buzz from musical theatre expert: me? I’d say it’s the fact that the show tackles important life experiences, such as being a member of an underrepresented group, in a way that is both meaningful and still vastly entertaining.
The Cher Show tells Cher’s life story through the narration of three Cher’s from different points in her life. The show opens with the story of Cher’s upbringing and how she struggled to feel like she belonged growing up in a single parent household and being called the derogatory term “half breed” by her classmates. In the musical number from the show “Half Breed” Cher shares that her mother was blonde and blue eyed, but she took on the features of her Armenian father. Having an olive complexion and brown eyes mader her a target to her classmates and and a member of an underrepresented population at her school.
The production also tackles the experience of being a woman in male dominated spaces. One thing that Cher will always be known for besides her iconic voice is her fashion choices. Cher would always wear outfits that pushed the boundaries of what was considered “acceptable” and “appropriate” style choices for women. The show highlights the fact that Cher had to fight management to be able to wear the outfit choices of her liking. The production also shares that despite Cher’s hard work and talent, Sonny, Cher’s former husband, as well as her management owned all of Cher Enterprises at one point leaving her with nothing.
People of color and women feel often experience the same isolation and drive to stand for what they want, that Cher felt throughout her life especially in light of our nation’s social and political climate. Cher’s daring personality is highlighted throughout the production and it leaves the audience with the theme to never give up and always fight for what you want in life, which everyone can use a dose off.
In addition to covering important and relatable life experiences, The Cher Show is also extremely entertaining and well done. The three actresses all playing Cher were able to capture the essence of Cher through her powerful voice and iconic walk. The costumes in the show are also gorgeous and an accurate representation of the outfits Cher would sport during the prime of her career. The intricate lighting and stage production also makes the audience feel like they’re live at a Cher concert throughout the play. The Cher Show will arrive on Broadway in early November and have it’s official opening night December 3rd.
This truly excellent production that will definitely be making its mark in the world very soon, and I’m so grateful Chicago has the opportunity to get a first glimpse of it.