IF you had asked me to nominate when Cher first burst on the pop music scene with her 12- years-senior husband Sonny Bono, (played by Lucas Rush), topping the US and UK charts with I Got You Babe, it certainly would have been much later than 1965.
At this time, very much under the influence of the dominating mentor Bono, all looked plain sailing as together they sold more than 40,000,000 records. However, as her personal star rose and she began to take centre stage via solo top ten recordings like Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down and You Better Sit Down Kids, so the marriage and stage partnership began to come apart.
These are just a few of the facts from the life and battles that Cher had to endure in a male dominated industry in order to survive, that come to life in Rick Elice’s script, which takes you from a mixed bag of childhood, broken home, bullied at school, through gauche teenage years to top TV and Academy Award winning film actress for Moonstruck in 1987. To tell the story, Elice has written a script that requires three singing actresses to portray Cher in each portion of her career and life, a life that was never easy sailing, full of exciting ups and severe downs. Despite all the recording, TV and film success, as money problems closed in and work offers dried up, she was reduced at one time to advertising hair spray in order to keep the wolves from the door.
On the personal side, things were hardly less turbulent – another failed marriage, this time to the womanising singer/songwriter Greg Allman (played by Sam Ferriday) and an unhappy fling with much younger Bob Mackie (Jake Mitchell).
Each bringing their own personal touch and vocal talents to their creations, Millie O’Connell, Danielle Steers and Debbie Kurup, created three distinct portraits of Cher. They interlaced this personal story, told in brief snippets between many exciting Cher hits, including Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves and the iconic video for If I Could Turn Back Time, filmed on the USS Missouri.
Throughout the show, a top-class ensemble, interpreted Oti Mabuse’s choreography in fine style, dressed in sailors’ outfits awaiting the chance to support all three Chers in a rousing finale. In addition to those sailor outfits, costume designer Gabriella Slade also created a string of those daring dresses so associated with Cher for the three girls to wear in arrogant style. Add Ted Rogers’ cleverly designed multi-purpose set, dramatically lit by Ben Cracknell, and director Arlene Phillips, who was never going to let the pace slacken for a moment and you have a production that visually matches the excitement in the music.
The Cher Story continues at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 28th January and the tour continues to Torquay’s Princess Theatre between 14th and 18th February.