REVIEW: The Cher Story – Grand Opera House, York

As a lifelong Cher fan, when I heard of a new musical dedicated to her life was coming to York, to say I was giddy would be an understatement! The perfect tribute to one of my favourite artists, the brand new “The Cher Story” tells the entire story back to front of how she rose to fame.

The show was electric and engaging right from the off. I didn’t expect the story to begin right at the start of Cher’s life, and I mean right at the start. The show is based on the invention and reinvention of Cher, with three actresses playing her at different stages of her life. This was perfect casting, and the range of emotions and behaviours that each “Cher” got across on stage was both fascinating and entertaining in equal parts.

Young Cher (Millie O’Connell) had a true “sass” attitude that was reminiscent of most young girls of that age. The strong female voice throughout was outstanding, despite it being “a man’s world” – her voice at all stages never fails to be outpowered by the men.

Staging and props helped the show move on in a timely fashion, when fitting over 30 songs into a musical, it needs good pace, and the addition of props to indicate the year and time of the show was well positioned.

There were moments throughout that had the whole crowd in laughter and the applause for both scripting and music was heard all night. The volume was also great, it made you feel like you were in an arena, not a theatre in York such was the volume – as it should be for a Cher show. Throughout the entire first act, our eyes were quite frankly, glued to the stage.

In the second act, we had much more pace and whizzed through the years at a frantic rate. This was a great metaphor for Cher herself, and how frantic her life was through her career. What was notable, when you have so many songs, is that you knew a fair amount but several were unknown to me. It was nice when someone behind vocalised “I love this one” yet I’d never heard of it. The breadth of career Cher had was made evident and clear but each and every song went down well.

The standing ovation and singing at the end further enforced the feeling of being at a genuine concert and not a theatre show. The three Cher’s mastered her presence at different stages in her career; whether body language, movement or speech, they had her down to a tee.

Conceptually this is dynamic but interesting. Absolutely not what I was expecting and I’d encourage you to attend if you can. It was a stunning performance, from the vocals, to the casting, and the wonderful outfit design, this was everything Cher means to the world of music in a couple of hours. Cher herself would be very proud of this and I have no doubt would endorse it as a real example of how her life and career played out. The energy was addictive, and if you went in tired, you certainly wouldn’t be tired for long!

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