Early in The Cher Show, Sonny Bono reprimands Cher when she complains about the rigors of stardom. “You bought the ticket; take the ride.”
The target audience at the Neil Simon Theatre is onboard.
Book writer Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), director Jason Moore (Avenue Q) and choreographer Christopher Gattelli have created a celebratory jukebox musical that has energy and style.
They tell the six-decade story at warp speed, with three actresses in the title role. There’s the striving teenager (newcomer Micaela Diamond), the young TV star (Teal Wicks) seeking to gain control of her career from the men around her, and the iconic singer/movie star/personality (Stephanie J. Block, in a massive curly mane) who ends the show doing one farewell tour after another.
They take turns leading the action but share the stage throughout, bantering, dancing and singing such hits as “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe.”
Block is the most Cher-like of the trio. Adopting the signature husky voice, outsized personality and dry wit, she goes beyond impersonation, imbuing the role with strength and vulnerability. Jarrod Spector is a convincing Sonny, despite an initial resemblance to Derek Zoolander with bangs.
Cher’s second husband, Gregg Allman (Matthew Hydzik), makes a brief appearance, with a drug problem and long blonde locks.
Wig and hair designer Chalres LaPointe presumably worked overtime on this show.
Bob Mackie, a character (Michael Berresse) and the real-life costume designer, has recreated Cher outfits that are both over-the-top, with sequins and headdresses, and barely there.
As an admirer but not a devotee of Cher and her recordings, I generally enjoyed the party, even if some scenes — such as her dating a younger man under the glare of the paparazzi — seem inconsequential. The musical may lack the breakout potential of Jersey Boys or Beautiful, two jukebox hits about artists who wrote their own songs.
But it’s hard to imagine an unhappy Cher fan at The Cher Show.