How 'The Cher Show' Stars Embody a Musical Icon on Broadway
For plenty of pop music’s most iconic artists, Broadway has become an one of the expected stops on a career path as musicals about their lives, or based on their songbooks, are developed with greater and greater frequency each year. But few artists have a life both on and offstage as fascinating as the latest legend to enter the world of musical theater: Cher.
The singer, comedienne, actress and all-around trailblazer is the subject of The Cher Show (playing now at New York's Neil Simon Theatre), where three actresses embody different chapters of the "Believe" star's life while singing and dancing through 35 of her most beloved hits. Those women -- Stephanie J. Block, Micaela Diamond, and Teal Wicks -- along with their Sonny, Jarrod Spector, stopped by the Billboard on Broadway podcast to discuss the transformations they’ve made -- often in front of Cher herself.
While the three women came to The Cher Show from differing backgrounds -- Diamond is a Broadway newcomer, while Block is a Tony-nominated veteran -- they found commonality in their attraction to Cher as a richly multi-faceted woman to embody. “She doesn’t shy away from the bold choice,” says Wicks. Block explains that though the audience sees Cher’s various incarnations (and wardrobes) over the decades, “We never say she’s reinvented herself. She’s just constantly been there -- she’s one of the most resilient people you’ll ever meet," Block says.
Block, Diamond and Wicks, and especially Spector, draw gasps of awe from the audience when they sing Sonny and Cher’s most beloved hits in voices that are nearly identical to those of the artists they’re playing, but as all four explain, learning to sing like Sonny and Cher was a different challenge from diving into who they were as people. “We’re approaching these as storytelling songs, not just ‘I’m gonna stand here and give you the concert version of these songs,’” Wicks says. “That helps a lot to ground it and not make it just like we’re doing impersonations of Cher.”
“We’ll be the first to tell you we ain’t Cher, and we know that,” says Block. “So we had to find our own voice within this essence of what we knew the audience would expect and still stay true to ourselves as actresses.”
In their conversation with host Rebecca Milzoff, the foursome reveal the realities of wrangling their dozens of costumes and wigs backstage, open up about Cher’s close creative involvement in the show’s development and recap the show’s opening night, when Spector took to Twitter to call out audience member Kanye West for using his phone during the performance (West apologized).
Listen to the Billboard on Broadway podcast below.
#BillboardonBroadway is a weekly podcast devoted to all things musical theater and their overlap with pop music. Click here to subscribe to the #BillboardonBroadway podcast on iTunes, and let us know what you think on Twitter (@rebeccamilzoff) or by rating the podcast on iTunes.