Review: Three great reasons for catching ‘The Cher Show’ in San Francisco

Three Chers are better than one.

Well, maybe not in real life — indeed, that might represent more personality and firepower than the pop/celebrity universe could actually handle. But it certainly proved true on opening night (Wednesday, June 19) of “The Cher Show” at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.

The three women who perform as Cher — Morgan Scott, Catherine Ariale and Ella Perez — during this fun, breezy jukebox musical are all suitably fabulous. They tackle different eras in the life of this recent inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Perez playing the young Cher (known as the “Babe” Cher, covering her rise from childhood to the early success of Sonny & Cher with the No. 1 hit “I Got You Babe”), Ariale as “Lady” Cher (detailing the massive success of “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” and other TV work) and Scott as “Star” Cher (who takes us through the late ’80s and early ’90s music comeback/Auto-Tune era to pretty much present day).

All three women take turns under the spotlight, corresponding — more or less, but not entirely — to what part of the Cher story is being told. That’s what one would expect with such a production, tracing the many challenges, trails and successes of a major pop culture figure. Yet, what really separates “The Cher Show” from other such celebrity-focused jukebox productions — where the story is told to a soundtrack of that particular star’s songs — is the way the three different versions of Cher consistently interact onstage.

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While a chapter in one Cher’s life unfolds, the other two Chers will routinely appear to provide support and encouragement. They also bicker and joke with one another — which is a blast to see, in effect, Cher making fun of herself — as well as, most importantly, harmonize, with different combinations of those three great voices coming together on a soundtrack that includes such famed numbers as “I Found Someone,” “The Beat Goes On” and, of course, “I Got You Babe.”

Morgan Scott in “The Cher Show.” (Photo by Meredith Mashburn Photography., courtesy BroadwaySF) 

Having premiered in Chicago in 2018, before moving onto Broadway and winning a pair of Tonys, the show begins in the present, as “Star” Cher croons “If I Could Turn Back Time” and then, well, proceeds to do so — taking fans back to when she was a kid growing up in the ’50s in Southern California and first falling in love with music and the possibility of becoming a star (during an outing with the family to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood).

She’d accomplish that feat after meeting the charismatic Sonny Bono at the age of 16, as the duo would soon bring their TV-friendly hippie vibe and pleasing vocal harmonies to the masses via the smash success of “I Got You Babe.”

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From there, the chapters of Cher’s remarkable story unfold in fun, fast-paced fashion, with one fan favorite tune after another punctuating the big moments in both her career and personal life. It’s hardly a straight forward journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Oscar glory, but rather one filled with plenty of zigs and zags, starts and stops — all of which make for compelling theater.

The supporting cast is terrific — especially Lorenzo Pugliese, who plays a mostly endearing version of Sonny Bono (albeit one who probably spent far more time in the gym than the dearly departed Salvatore ever did) and showed great comic timing and chemistry with all the Chers he interacted with over the course of the 2 hour and 40 minute (with intermission) production.

Also, quite fittingly, the costumes are amazing, elaborate and, above all else, abundant — leading one to the assumption that the wardrobe alone might require it’s own massive truck as “The Cher Show” makes its way from city to city.

In all, it’s a fun and engaging evening of theater, one that, of course, will most appeal to longtime Cher fans, but should also keep even the uninitiated entertained. Catch the show through June 23 at the Curran (broadwaysf.com) or make plans to see it when it returns to the Bay Area in March for a run with Broadway San Jose (broadwaysanjose.com).

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From left, Catherine Ariale as “Lady” Cher, Morgan Scott as “Star” Cher, and Ella Perez as “Babe” Cher in “The Cher Show.” (Photo by Meredith Mashburn Photography., courtesy BroadwaySF) 

 

 

 

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