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‘The Cher Show’ Brings the Star Power to Metro Detroit

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Cher is the definition of an icon. With a career that has spanned decades, music that has defined a generation, and style that has changed throughout the years, Cher is a legend through and through. But between all the hit singles and the vast number of costumes she’s worn, she is a woman who has struggled and fought her way to find her place in the world. Cher’s life story plays out on stage during The Cher Show, showing the singer’s ascension from basic beginnings to becoming one of the largest stars in the world. It’s a story that is ripe for the stage, using her music to journey through the important beats of her life.

This jukebox musical was created with a book by Rick Elice (The Addams Family musical, Peter and the Starcatcher), with an emphasis on the musical selection of Cher’s work that pushes her story from childhood to stardom. Serving as both narrator and the main character, Cher is divided among three stars, with each one serving as a distinct period and voice for the legend. Ella Perez plays Babe, the youngest of the three Chers, with Catherine Ariale playing Lady, and Morgan Scott playing the more mature Star.

Joining these three on-stage by Lorenzo Pugliese, Lucy Werner, Tyler Pirrung, Mike Bindeman, and Gary Paul Bowman. The Cher Show is easily one of my favorite shows to have come through Broadway in Detroit, and I think you all will enjoy it too! 

[Warning: Spoilers from The Cher Show are below!]

The Cher Show the beginning: I got you Babe

It might be difficult to imagine, but Cher (Perez) was shy when she was a young girl, which is shocking when you get to know her mother, Georgia Holt (Werner). Divorced from Cher’s father, Georgia worked hard to provide for her daughter, as well as be a positive example of what a strong woman is.

Cher’s love for her mother runs deep, as well as her paternal role model, John Southall (Mike Bindeman), her mother’s partner. They did their best to give her a wonderful life, building her up past the shy girl that is teased because of her heritage (being called half-breed because her father was Armenian) and learning disabilities (she’s dyslexic and struggles in school as a result). 

But Cher’s life is changed forever when she sees Cinderella in theaters. The magic of Disney and the inspirational rags-to-riches story pushes the young girl’s desire to be a star. Leaving home at 16, Cher sets off to find her place in Hollywood, which happens rather quickly with the help of Sonny Bono (Lorenzo Pugliese). Together, these two climb the charts and find love in a hopeless place. While The Cher Show celebrates the singer’s victories, it also doesn’t shy away from the rock bottoms, of which there were quite a few.

The Cher Show Lady, Star, and Babe performing on stage
Lady (Catherine Ariale), Star (Morgan Scott), and Babe (Ella Perez). The Cher Show (Broadway in Detroit).

Do you believe in life after love?

Love is a strong emotion, one which can stand many tests, and Sonny and Cher test quite a lot. Their relationship is a rollercoaster, with the highest peaks and the lowest dips imaginable. With shows in Vegas, broadcasts across network television, and a child, they weathered it all. That is, until they couldn’t.

Eventually, the bad turned to worse, and Cher had lost everything. No longer could she stand aside and allow someone else to work her to the bones, gaining nothing for herself or her family. It’s then that our Lady Cher (Ariale) has to make the biggest decision of her life. Should she stay, or should she go? I think that’s a position that so many of us have been in at one point in our lives, and it’s not an easy one.

With nothing to her name and a newfound confidence, the show carries us into Cher’s third chapter, but definitely not her last. The Star Cher (Scott) takes the audience from early in the second act to the conclusion, closing out the show with Cher’s farewell tour!

Turning back time in The Cher Show

Before going to see the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As someone who grew up listening to the works of Cher, as she was one of my mother’s favorite artists, it felt like there was a lot of pressure on the show. What if the songs didn’t sound as good as the original? What if the story failed to capture the energy and hilarity that was Cher through and through? Sounds like a lot of headache to worry so much about a musical, but hey, that’s where I was about a week ago.

Any worries I had were quashed in the first ten minutes of the show, which opened with “If I Could Turn Back Time”, a classic among the long list of Cher songs that everyone present for the show knew. With the first few chords and Scott’s deep and sultry voice crooning out the words before beginning her narration, I was sold. Sell me all the tickets, I could see this show multiple times over, and I had barely begun it.

The structure of the story was unique in a way that I haven’t seen from a lot of stage performances. The Cher Show is narrated by Cher, which isn’t that different from, say, Otis William’s narration in Ain’t Too Proud. The Cher Show changes the idea by having three separate Chers coming together to look back on her life. This way, Babe and Lady Cher can look forward to their life as well, which creates some interesting dynamics among the three. That dynamic allows audience members to gain some more insight into the mind of the star during some huge events in her life. This is something you wouldn’t necessarily gain from a regular stage show.

The Cher Show Sonny and Cher
Babe (Ella Perez) and Sonny (Lorenzo Pugliese). The Cher Show (Broadway in Detroit).

The Cher Show also did an admirable job balancing the good and the bad of her life and career, not shying away from some of the sticky parts. It doesn’t attempt to paint Cher in a positive light, even though it highlights many high points throughout it.

Instead, it allows people to see the rock bottoms she hit, and the anger she felt at both herself and others in her life. You get to examine the hurt and the pain that comes from stardom and those who attempt to abuse it. Even characters who could have been seen as the villains are handled with kindness and caring, which allows for more gray areas than clear black and white.

This musical is a fantastic choice for those who are familiar with Cher, her music, and her story. The story itself was engaging, and the music was something you could easily jam to, as most are easily recognizable. I do think the story will be more enjoyable however for those who are fans of the artist and her music, which adds another layer to the show. You get an up close and personal with her life, providing an intimacy that seems essential for all Cher fans to see. However, the scope might be rather narrow to the general audience.

The Cher Show features many strong performances, but the praise must go to our three leads. Ella Perez, Catherine Ariale, and Morgan Scott all play such iconic versions of Cher, each with distinct personalities that blend well together.

It’s so difficult to tease one apart from another, as they are so intricately connected by design. These three represent three stages of one person’s life, showcasing how much growth someone can go through. Each one is as strong as the others, creating one of the most fascinating and breathtaking roles and performances I’ve ever seen on stage.

Final thoughts on The Cher Show

The Cher Show is at the top of my list from this season of Broadway in Detroit, which was a huge shock when the show wrapped. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect a show like this to top others like Wicked and Mrs. Doubtfire. The entire season was fantastic, but The Cher Show felt like something special in ways I struggle to explain. It’s hilarious, with so many jokes that make me chuckle. It’s fun, with an enjoyable story and songs I could easily recognize and sing along with. I think there’s something in The Cher Show for everyone, meaning you should check it out in a city near you.

The Cher Show is currently in Detroit but is touring across North America. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on seeing it!

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 365 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson