Thursday, December 8

The Cher Show – The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Standing ovations have to be earned and the team behind the Toni Award winning musical, The Cher Show, hit the sweet spot last night at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow.

The clever staging (Tom Rogers) was sumptuously lit (Ben Cracknell), especially at the finale, and the costumes (Gabriella Slade) were spectacular … especially at the finale, but more than that, it was the tale of an outsider made good. We all love a story of the underdog overcoming seemingly immovable obstacles. And I don’t know anyone who isn’t in awe of some sort of genuinely gifted individual. Cher’s gift is not just her voice, but her resilience, her obstinacy and her rebellious attitude. Who cares if she’s got parts of her body that don’t match her decades on this earth? The woman has given us decades of rousing, deep, joyful music. She came from nothing, and she worked tirelessly until she made herself “something”. 

Which brings me onto a much deserved thanks to the men and women of the orchestra, sitting in the dark, humbly painting the impeccable backing to this stick of dynamite. There is nothing to match live music. And I have huge appreciation for the three “Chers” who sing and act with verve and seamless teamwork (West End stars Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers, Millie O’Connell). They portray the different eras of Cher’s life and the various aspects of her personality with charm and charisma.

Photo: Pamela Raith

This trio’s rapport and humour carries the show. Of course, humour is a given with a writer like Rick Elice, who co-authored such winners as Jersey Boys and The Addams Family. One of my favourite lines is “Careers come and go. What you need to hold onto is your teeth,” delivered by the talented Tori Scott, who plays Cher’s mother, Georgia. What a beautiful voice that woman has!

Furthermore, Guy Woolf does a wonderful job at playing Sonny. They look the part – wigs help (Sam Cox) – and they are utterly convincing. The relationship between Sonny and Cher is a familiar story of male dominance and female acquiescence, until the balance of power shifts over time and the acquiescence melds into subservience and servitude while the dominance develops into overbearing exploitation. This painful period of Cher’s life is dealt with compassionately. Their relationship is never bitter and the love they once shared is celebrated.

Cher wins in the end, despite her early naivety. She is a gutsy woman, with a gift. She might be down, she might be penniless, she might be frightened, but she picks herself up and claws her way out of that hole, very like Tina Turner after her split from Ike. It is a familiar story for many women.

As for smaller roles, Sam Ferriday deserves a mention for playing Phil Spector, Greg Allman, Rob Camilletti and Joe Southall. He was faultless throughout and, with the aid of make-up and costumes, he embodied four truly distinct personas.

In fact, the entire cast were strong – the ensemble could dance (choreographed by the mighty Moti Mabuse) and the direction was spot on thanks to Arlene Phillips.

The finale was a true celebration of a woman who loves to sing. Like an actual concert, the cast did an encore. The place erupted. Glamour, glitz, showmanship, style and a powerhouse of voices … what’s not to like?

Playing until 1st October,

Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield

Reviewed: 27th September 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★