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He Says: The Cher Show is Fantastically and Exactly What the Variety Show Hostess with the Mostest would have Ordered

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Stephine J Block

Over the New Year celebrations in New Orleans, one of my friends had downloaded the new Cher album of ABBA covers, and the result was something akin to a palm slapped to the forehead. Something along the lines of, “Why was this not done years ago? As it is just perfect and AMAZING!!” Because, to be frank, Cher sounds just “Fernando“-awesome and perfectly aligned with the material. It made me think about all those fantastic moments on YouTube that pop up here and there on FaceBook plucked from her 1975 variety show, “Cher” showcasing her musical adaptability and versatility, singing songs from a variety of singer/songwriters like Elton John, Better Midler, and the Osmond Brothers. logo-3-chers_tw-300x300The show ranked 1st among all variety shows and 22nd among all programs in its first season, while also receiving the most fan mail of any CBS program at the time. She seemed to be able to sing anyone’s song, with any singing partner, elevating it up to a whole new level, surprising us all with her confident talent and her iconic sound. But the other memorable thing from that show, and the 1971 “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” is exactly the thing that Broadway’s The Cher Show adeptly and most successfully recreates; her signature brand of flippant and irreverent sense of silliness and humor.  It was never masterful like “The Carol Burnett Show” but it had a quintessential innocence and sassy bite that only a hair-flipping Cher could pull off with such ease and affection, and wisely The Cher Show‘s creators held on and infused this jukebox show with that same casual irreverence, playing homage to the icon with both sparkly style and fun.

 

 

 

 

This is the very (high cheek) bones of The Cher Show, and as directed with a smart quick style by Jason Moore (Avenue Q) the jukebox musical chronicling the singer’s rise to stardom entertains to the tenth degree.  If you go into the Neil Simon Theatre expected something deeper and darker, I don’t know what to tell you because you obviously have no idea who Cher is and what she stands for. It’s smart storyboarding, taking us through the six decades of Cher like we are flipping through a biographical picture and songbook magazine while sipping on a glass of champagne. It’s frothy and bubbly, and makes not attempt for poignancy, in the way Cher must have wanted it, and chaperoning us with a wink and a smile is the magnetic and majestic ‘Star Cher‘ delivered spectacularly by the fabulous Stephanie J. Block, the best thing in Broadway’s Falsettos. She delivers something so spot on perfect that I had to keep reminding myself that this was an actress playing the icon, and not the other way around (or maybe it is as well).  Block is the iconic woman, in every grin, flip, strut, and song, and together with the in between ‘Lady Cher‘, enacted strongly by the talented Teal Wicks (Broadway’s Finding Neverland), and the young glorious ‘Babe Cher‘, brought to spectacular life by the talented Micaela Diamond (NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar“), the three aspects of Cher intermingle in a surprisingly entertaining and enlightening way, guiding us by handing off tasks to one another like ego-free relay racers passing the mic-baton, “Step aside, I got this“.  And do they ever, as they are more than just different ages of Cher, but also different parts with different strengths, and within that concept, these three stars combine with such stellar ease that we happily run along behind their sashay, thrilled that Cher isn’t allowing this to be something as dull as that more straight-forward Summer treatment that derailed the other icon jukebox musical.

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In the most spectacularly designed costumes by the legendary Bob Mackie (Broadway’s Moon Over Buffalo), with special kudos to hair and wigs by Charles G. LaPointe (Broadway’s Hamilton) and makeup by Cookie Jordan (Broadway’s Once on This Island), a young girl by the name of Cherilyn Sarkisian, born May 20, 1946, with the beautifully voiced maternal guidance of Ma Georgia Holt, gorgeously portrayed by Emily Skinner (Broadway’s Prince on Broadway), fights the taunts and snide jokes thrown at her daughter by high-schoolers to the profound rhythm and drum of “Half Breed“. And with the help and hand-holding of the surprisingly dashing Sonny Bono (ok, hold on… who knew that under those synthetic outfits, one hot bodied stud existed, at least that’s how it’s being showcased here as portrayed perfectly by the well toned and chiseled – both physically and vocally – Jarrod Spector of Broadway’s Beautiful, Les Misérables), a unique and singular star was in the making.  “I Got You Babe” never sounded so profound and well-produced as it does in The Cher Show, just like all her other pop hits. They aren’t Sondheim or even Carol King, but as crafted together within the flimsy but fun book by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), each make a point reflecting on the life and legend of this shy young woman who now many commonly refer to as the Goddess of Pop. And that is no stretch of the imagination.

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The cast of The Cher Show.Photo by Joan Marcus.

Moving fast and furious through the years, The Cher Show parades with panache the likes of Bob Mackie & Robert Altman, deliciously portrayed by Michael Berresse (Broadway’s [title of show]), bagel boy Rob Camilletti, delightfully played by Michael Campayno (Broadway’s Wicked) getting a quick and noble nod, and the handsome Gregg Allman wonderfully strutting forward in the beautifully shaped body of Matthew Hydzik (Broadway’s Side Show), each like a special guest star on the television Cher Variety Hour.  It’s great fun, full of surprisingly honest details with some others that feel a little too squeaky clean and polished, but even with those cries of “I need to spend more time with Chaz“, the hits keep coming one after the other. The quick smart and silly jokes and asides fly fast and furious, layered in between moments of pop music magic, thanks to the musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Daryl Waters (Broadway’s Shuffle Along), music coordinator Dean Sharenow (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit), music director Andrew Resnick (Broadway’s The King and I), and dance music arrangements by Zane Mark (Broadway’s Pippin). It’s sharp and solid, reflecting the incredible popularity of her hit parade, surrounding a story that has more ups and downs than a roller coaster.  Who knew? I know I didn’t.

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The cast of The Cher Show. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Choreographed with high kicking style and a sexy bodied divineness by Christopher Gattelli (Broadway’s SpongeBob SquarePantsNewsies), the stunningly gorgeous cast and ensemble, that include  Marija Juliette Abney (Colleen), Carleigh Bettiol (Bridget), Taurean Everett ????, Michael Fatica, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Michael Graceffa (wow), Blaine Alden Krauss, Sam Lips, Tiana Okoye, Amy Quanbeck, Angle Reda, Jennifer Rias, Michael Tacconi, Tory Trowbridge, Christopehr Vo, Aléna Watters, Charlie Williams (good lord, ???? this muscular hunk almost steals the spotlight!), Ryan Worsing, glisten like gorgeous bodied centerpieces, guaranteed to visually please almost everyone in the house in one sexy assed way or another. It’s flashy and hot, like her Las Vegas show on steroids, drumming out a visual splendor, courtesy of the strong work by set designers, Christine Jones & Brett J. Banakis (Broadway’s Harry Potter), lighting by Kevin Adams (Broadway’s Head Over Heels), sound by Nevin Steinberg (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen), and video and projection design Darrel Maloney (Broadway’s American Idiot).

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Jared Spector, Micaela Diamond. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Cher Show, with the astonishing Block as tour guide and hostess with the very mostest, is a show to truly “Believe” in. Even during the “Sweet Charity“-esque movie role mash-up, danced and sung with Fosse-like precision and style by the sparkling Diamond, this frothy musical marathon never gets tiring, or anywhere close to being dull.  From her vintage television show performances, her sassy and lovable Bono short jokes, to her wild and wonderful costumes, lovingly recreated and paraded out like a 1970’s version of that iconic fashion show that arrived midway through the classic 1939 “The Women“, I knew walking in that The Cher Show would be a good time. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sexy sassiness of the show and the sweet smartness of the three Chers, especially Block and Diamond, who are totally “Strong Enough” to rock that Cher humor and sound so solidly well that if the real Cher had showed up, I’d have a hard time hearing the difference.  Broadway snobs beware. This isn’t Sondheim, but it channels the very pop essence that is Cher, “Turning Back Time”, reveling in the joke-telling pop-singing hair-flipping tongue in cheek legend that enthralled us all for decades. You Haven’t Seen the Last of Cher Yet.

 

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Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block, Cher, Micaela Diamond.

For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents John Patrick Shanley

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director. He won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Moonstruck. His play, Doubt: A Parable, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Drama Desk Award and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play; he wrote and directed the film adaptation and earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Shanley is the author of more than 23 plays, which have been translated and performed around the world, including 80 productions a year in North America. He has often directed his own productions. In 1990, Shanley directed his script of Joe Versus the Volcano. Shanley also wrote two songs for the movie: Marooned Without You and The Cowboy Song. He wrote the screenplay for the film Congo (1995), which was based on the Michael Crichton book.

Shanley’s journey in playwriting began in the early 1980s, with his first play, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, which premiered in 1984. This powerful drama showcased Shanley’s talent for creating deeply flawed, yet sympathetic characters.

In 2012, Shanley wrote the libretto for an opera version of Doubt: A Parable, which premiered at the Minnesota Opera in January 2013, with music by Douglas J. Cuomo. In 2012, his play Storefront Church ran Off-Broadway in a production by the Atlantic Theater Company. His play, Outside Mullingar, opened on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan starring Debra Messing and Brían F. O’Byrne.

Prodigal Son, which he directed, was produced Off-Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club. It starred Timothée Chalamet and Robert Sean Leonard. His play The Portuguese Kid opened on October 24, 2017, at the New York City Center Stage I. Directed by Shanley, the cast featured Jason Alexander, Sherie Rene Scott and Mary Testa. His new play Brooklyn Laundry opened on February 6, 2024, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Shanley directed, with a cast featuring Cecily Strong and David Zayas.

The New York premiere of his new mystical comedy Banshee, starring Elizabeth Bays (Simpatico) and Erick Betancourt (Cost of Living), with David Zayas Jr. (Simpatico) directing for the Chain Theatre’s 2024 Summer One-Act Festival August 8 – September 1.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, Podcasts.

Host Suzanna Bowling was also just named Most Engaging Hosts on TV, Radio and Podcasts on “The Daily Geek Report.” We are so grateful.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here, 18th here, 19th here, 20th here, 21st here and 22nd here.

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Theatre News: Cast Albums, Queen of the Mist, Kimberly Akimbo and The Oyster Radio Hour

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The new Broadway cast recordings for The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders and Suffs are out. However Here We Are, the final Original Cast Recording from legendary composer Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector are out on YouTube and these are the best scores of the year.

Another CD out is My Favorite Things: The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concert: featuring a 40-piece orchestra and stars, including Michael Ball, Maria Friedman, Daniel Dae Kim, Audra McDonald, Aaron Tveit, and Patrick Wilson, the Concert was recorded live at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The celebration showcases original arrangements of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s iconic songs from Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Cinderella, The Sound of Music and more.

Mary Testa return to Queen of the Mist in New Jersey Concert Performances at New Jersey’s Montclair State University. The concert performances of Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist featuring the work’s original star, Broadway favorite Mary Testa.

Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond’s Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical String has joined BroadwayLicensing Global’s catalogue and is now available for professional and non-professional productions. The company also dropped a studio cast recording of the show July 16, which is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all digital platforms.

Carolee Carmello

Carolee Carmello

Three-Time Tony Nominee Carolee Carmello to Star in Kimberly Akimbo National Tour” by Broadway.com’s Darryn King – “Three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello will play Kimberly in the national tour of Kimberly Akimbo.

Little Island is bringing Tony Award® nominees Amber Gray (Hadestown) and Amber Iman (Lempicka) to perform in The Oyster Radio Hour, which begins performances on Wednesday, July 31 and will run through Sunday, August 4 as part of Little Island’s blockbuster summer season.

The Oyster Radio Hour is a live, three-act family-friendly radio show combining science, story and song that celebrates the resilience of oysters and their crucial ecological roles. Beginning at 8PM each evening, the show blends hope and interconnectedness, spotlighting the humble oyster’s journey of revival, including special Broadway guests Amber Gray and Amber Iman.

During The Oyster Radio Hour’s run in the Amph through August 4, the Island’s central plaza, known as the Play Ground, will transform from 6:30-10PM daily into a one-of-a-kind Oyster Market, with food and beverages curated and overseen by New Amsterdam Market founder and world-famous market designer Robert LaValva.

Alongside live oyster shucking, the market will feature 10 local vendors selling their unique culinary creations, which pair perfectly with the live performance. The local vendors include Real Mothershuckers, Oyster Party, Lobster Place, Houseman, Dayboat Blue, Cervo’s, Té Company, La Newyorkina, Chomps Elysées, and Pamina Dolce Gelato. Danny Childs, author of Slow Drinks, will make summer bespoke cocktails during a bar takeover on Friday, August 3.  

The Oyster Radio Hour is a collaboration between RR Sigel, who was the Associate Artistic Director of NY PopsUp in 2021; WNYC podcast producer Ana González, previously of Radiolab: For Kids; composer Angélica Negrón who has performed at Opera Philadelphia, the LA Philharmonic, NY Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and more; and Emmy® and Drama Desk Award®-nominated songwriter Mark Sonnenblick.

Keenan Tyler Oliphant (Hadestown) serves as director with Miller & Harlow as writers; Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Kimberly Akimbo) as lighting/video designer; Beth Lake(Camelot) as sound designer; Dr. Matthew Hare, Elliott Ma, Ayasha Guerin, Moody Harney, and Alan Michelson as audio interviewees; and Beatrice Perez-Arche as stage manager.

Little Island’s first annual, four-month-long summer season of world premieres, which kicked off on June 1, features a total of nine newly commissioned pieces. Little Island’s new arts program moves towards the future with a commitment to a multi-year roster of original work, all commissioned by and developed at Little Island. Bookended by the premiere of choreographer Twyla Tharp’s newest work How Long Blues and a 90-minute remix of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in which outré opera diva Anthony Roth Costanzo sings every leading role, the season offers premieres of varying scales across all areas of performance – including music, dance, theater, opera, comedy, jazz, pop, and funk, all outdoors and directly sited on the Hudson River at 14th Street in New York City. The Amph, the park’s 700-seat amphitheater, will house larger scale performances at a $25 ticket price, while The Glade, the park’s

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes

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Patti Lupone is on a roll. Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes will be released digitally on July 19, and on CD on August 30, from Center Stage Records. Her first new studio album since 2006, the Grammy Award winner’s new double album can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and www.CenterStageRecords.com, and the digital album can be pre-saved at https://orcd.co/lifeinnotes.

Never say never, LuPone also returns to Broadway in The Roommate  this fall. It’s been more than two years since LuPone tweeted “Quite a week on Broadway, seeing my name being bandied about. Gave up my Equity card; no longer part of that circus. Figure it out.”

The three-time Tony Award winner will star opposite none other than Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play “The Roommate,” directed by Jack O’Brien (“Shucked”). The Roommate will begin previews at the Booth Theatre on 45th Street in late August and then open in mid-September.

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Disney Broadway In Bryant Park Part Two

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106.7 LITE FM’s brought Disney to Broadway in Bryant Park. We brought you the video and now the pictures so you are there.

Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Ben Jeffrey

The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

Charissa Hogeland

Charissa Hogeland

Chad Burris

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

Michael James Scott

Adi Roy

Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

106.7 Lite FM’s Hosts-Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

Chad Burris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

 

 

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Disney Broadway In Bryant Park

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106.7 LITE FM’s Broadway in Bryant Park brought Disney to its 2024 program. The Bryant Park stage is located at 6th Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Lawn seating is first come, first serve.

This weeks performances came from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

And The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

 

 

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