OH CHER — With Bohemian Rhapsody and now, Rocketman now deeply in the American zeitgeist now, I wondered who would be the next subject for a bio pic? A female? Should be, But, last night we finally got to see The Cher Show at the Neil Simon Theatre in NYC and it hit me immediately, that this was the next bio pic to see.
When this show finally got to Broadway (after a few tweaks by Cher herself), the one factor I could never wrap my head around, was the fact that there were three Chers in the show – young, older, and the current incarnation. When I saw them all on the Today Show –in a pre-opening performance- it was good, but not great. What I completely missed was the fact that all three are on stage together for much of the show in a frankly, wonderful continuing dialogue about her career.
Rice Elice, who did the book for Jersey Boys, has certainly come up with an amazing device here. The continuing dialogue among the three – and, sometimes, winningly, Cher’s mother close by – is a slam bam genius idea.
A good friend of mine father’s, worked for Cher’s record label in the early says (“Half Breed,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”) so I was privy to much inside intel on her and her career. Interestingly enough, another friend who I saw the show with, said that songs like “Half Breed” were chosen by Cher herself, as she was called a half-breed in school, owing to her American and Armenian heritages. I have to say, that honesty, the record business didn’t work that way back then … although I don’t really know. Truth be told, in the now me-too environment, that explanation certainly does work.
The show begins with her performances of “If I Could Turn Back Time” in a typically-Cher skimpy g-string and lots of black lace. If you recall, this was the video where she appeared to be on a battle ship surrounded by sailors. Two minutes into this performance, she echoed the Me Too movement and brought on female soldiers. It was nice modern touch.
The SRO show is terrifically enjoyable, especially if you are a Cher fan. Jarrod Spector, so fantastic in Jersey Boys, plays Sonny and is spot-on. Who knew he could do a Bono-accent? Bono worked for Phil Spector, who back then, was an amazingly successful producer. Dressing him in a modern-day track suit, was a little odd. Even back then, mad-man Spector was always dressed in a jacket, white shirt and tie.
The show’s second act really sparkles with a stunning rendition of “Dark Lady,” a major hit for Cher in her early career. I never realized how tight the stage was at the Neil Simon Theatre, but it all works. Emily Skinner (!!!) essaying Cher’s mother Georgia Holt is fantastic as well; dispensing sage advice throughout the show and drawing much laughter. Michael Berresse as designer Bob Mackie (and, Robert Altman) is terrific too.
Cher’s rise from Sonny – Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean – to films like Silkwood and Mask, is a lesson in tenacity. Her Oscar-winning performance in Moonlight was a sea change for her as it elevated her to full stardom. Also, it was a great, great film – with Nicholas Cage and the great Danni Aiello.
Me, I liked her comeback record “Believe,” and that entire album. The U.K.’s Rob Dickins, from Warner’s, orchestrated that and brought her back to the forefront in a huge way. I well recall seeing her in Atlantic City, with The Village People opening for her. It was a terrific performance.
She was and is a major, major artist. Pop Culture 101 if you ask me.
I loved the show; the way it unfolded. A bio-play for sure, but that worked amazingly well.
MONDAY NIGHT AT THE BLACKBARN — Monday night at John Doherty’s terrific Blackbarn restaurant, was the reception for Mark Bego and Mary Wilson, to kick off the publication of their new book, Supreme Glamour (Thames and Hudson): celebrating The Supremes’ style. Don’t forget, as the premiere femme group of the 60’s, their style was in the forefront of the national consciousness. Not only were their songs stupendous, but always, their wardrobe and sense of style.
There was an advance copy of the book there, out in September) and each page was awash in great detail of their gowns and the work that was involved in orchestrating such a wardrobe. The book, lavishly done, was just exceptional.
Wilson’s comments are chock full of details and from what we saw, a most essential read.
Seen in the throng were, Mike McCann from Premier Radio Network; Magda Katz from Times Square Chronicles; PR-persons David Salidor (who helped arrange the event) Howard Bloom and Ida Langsam; photographer extraordinaire Ebet Roberts; Thames and Hudson’s Harry Burton; the terrific Harry Haun from Playbill; D.C. LaRue; Lou Christie; Wilson-manager Dan Richter; Jason Grant; and, friends Jane Berk, Mark Sokoloff and Jack Cunningham.
It was an exceptionally beautiful evening in NYC and this was a terrific event.
SHORT TAKES — Wendy Stuart Kaplan hosts, on June 5 and 6, at The Explorers Club in NYC, World Oceans Week. Check it out www.explorers.org … I’ve been listening to Badfinger’s “The Name Of The Game” from their brilliant album Straight Up (December, 1971). What a band; what a story. Much missed for sure. Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDfH5j0o5hk … Speaking of Mary Wilson; I hear her shows at NY’s Café Caryle have been nothing short of brilliant. Sounds like something Van Dean’s Broadway Records should record and release. How about it? … And, author Mark Bego gets the Zach Martin treatment next week on his Big Fat American podcast … Tomorrow is the first Mike & Micky Show in Australia. Actually, Australia is a day ahead; so, it’s happening right now … Greg Messel’s Dreams That Never Were is officially out on Friday … Seeing Wynton Marsalis over the weekend at Lincoln Center. Details to follow … Seen: WOR’s Tom Cuddy and Mark Bego at Walker’s in Tribeca … and, Happy Bday Ed Steinberg!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Scott Shannon; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Ebet Roberts; Ida Langsam; Howard Bloom; Greg Messel; Tony King; Zach Martin; Keith F. Girard; James Edstrom; Magda Katz; Brad Balfour; Jane Berk; Marion Weinstein; Beth Wernick; Paul Undersinger; Van Dean; Julia Machover; and, CHIP.