Friday, January 20, 2017

New York Post's Michael Riedel Was Present At Cher's Broadway Play Read-Through: "Cher: The Musical” Is Shaping Up To Be A Lot Of Fun

Michael Riedel, a writer for the New York Post, was in attendance at the recent read-through for the play based on Cher's life:

You didn’t hear this from me, but this week Cher was at the very first read-through of a new musical based on her life. I’m going to give you a few details, but I’m begging you: Don’t tell anyone! The reading was so hush-hush that security confiscated everybody’s cellphones before it started.

Wearing a giant pair of sunglasses, Cher hovered at the back of the studio and watched her life unfold. The sense in the room was that the reading was for her. And now the producers — Jeffrey Seller (“Hamilton”) and a longtime TV producer, the fabulously named Flody Suarez — are nervously awaiting her decision on whether to go forward with “Cher: The Musical.”

Director Jason Moore (“Avenue Q”) gave a little speech at the beginning, asking the guests not to post anything on social media. (He didn’t say anything about putting details into The Post, so technically I’m off the hook.) He stressed that the show is still in the early stages. The cast read the script and sang the songs, but there was no dancing, though choreographer Chris Gattelli (“Newsies”) was there.

Written by Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys”), “Cher: The Musical” chronicles her life, starting with her hard-scrabble childhood in Los Angeles, where her mother waited tables. Cher always knew she wanted to be famous, and got a job as a backup singer as a teenager. She met Sonny Bono in 1962, and the musical shows how they shrewdly climbed their way to the top of the music business, later becoming household names with “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” on television. After their 1975 divorce, Cher reinvented herself as a pop icon and movie star.

The songs in “Cher: The Musical” are from Cher’s catalog.

Three different actresses played Cher at various stages of her life. Jillian Mueller played the young Cher, and Lesli Margherita (Mrs. Wormwood in “Matilda”) played the mature one.

At one point, Cher thought she might even play herself in the show. In a 2014 interview with my colleague Barbara Hoffman, she said, “I could play the old Cher quite well.”

But that idea seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Mueller and Margherita were pronounced excellent, but the standout was Lena Hall, as middle-aged Cher. Hall, who won a Tony for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” thrilled everybody with her renditions of “I Got You Babe” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.”

“Lena Hall killed it,” people were saying (privately!) after the reading. A showstopper was “If I Could Turn Back Time,”sung by all three.

Jarrod Spector, who played Barry Mann in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” was said to be terrific as Sonny Bono.

Back when he wasn’t sworn to secrecy, Elice told me, “They may pack me in a van and have me carted away when they see what I’ve done with her life.”

I don’t think he has to worry. By all accounts, “Cher: The Musical” is shaping up to be a lot of fun.

READ MORE: WATCH! Cher Sings This Land Is Your Land During The We Stand United Rally


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