Reviewed by Jenna Farmer
The Commonwealth Games may be in full swing in Birmingham right now but Tuesday evening saw the arrival of three more stars to the city as Cher the Musical launched to a packed house on opening night. Telling the story of Cher from a wide-eyed innocent teenager in the 60s to the hit-after-hit career that followed (along with the inevitable bumps in the road and failed relationships). The show draws on not one, not two but 3 west end stars-who all play Cher at different parts of her career.
First up is Millie O’Connell (best known for playing Anne Boleyn in hit musical SIX), who perfectly conveys the awkwardness, innocence and untapped star-power of ‘BABE’ (Cher in her teenage years) From her mannerisms to the way she looks at Sonny, we are immediately taken in on Cher’s journey. Another SIX alumni, Danielle Steers, is then handed over the baton to play Cher in her 20s (LADY) as she navigates the difficult side of the industry, motherhood and the beginning of her relationship breakdown. Finally Debbie Kurup, known for The Prince of Egypt and The Bodyguard, takes on STAR to span the later part of Cher’s career.
The vocals are something to be marvelled at: all three stars somehow are able to perfectly convey the wonder and power of Cher’s vocals without sounding simply like impersonators-it’s too hard to pick a favourite vocalist, we found ourselves changing our favourite each time they picked up a microphone before we finally accepted in the closing numbers that they are simply world-class vocalists that can’t be distinguished. When the three come together to harmonise, it is truly something special.
It’s not just about the music though. Although it’s worth pointing out there’s 35-yep 35 of her classic hits (from the lovestruck ‘I’ve got you babe’ to the defiant ‘Strong Enough.’) It truly doesn’t matter if you know the words to every single track or only know a handful, they’ll soon all become your favourites.
It’s important to note this isn’t a concert (there is a note not to sing along at the start of the show, although, spoiler alert: do make sure you stay right until the end as there’s the chance to jump to your feet and sing along as the cast belt out Cher’s most popular numbers) but a real story with amazing songs. The staging itself deserves praise-smartly integrating the year’s of Cher’s life to signal to the audience how time is passing. Behind the music is a compelling narrative by itself, of Cher’s highs and lows, loves and losses and, perhaps most importantly, of a woman determined to carve her own path in the music industry and achieve fame, perhaps despite the men in her life.
The Cher Show is an amazing tale of of female empowerment and an insight into the price of fame. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Cher superfan or just know a few of the tracks, by the end of the musical you will still be in awe regardless. You really don’t want to miss out on the chance to see a show that truly is world class.
Tickets cost from £27
The Cher Show is at the Birmingham Hippodrome from the 3nd to the 6th August
For more information or to book tickets visit: https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/the-cher-show/ or call the box office on: 0844 338 5000
Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Hurst Street, Southside Birmingham, B5 4TB