I saw The Cher Show on Sunday, 2 December — the night before it officially opened. Of course, being a Millennial, Cher wasn’t really a performer I grew up with. My first introduction to Cher was her 2000 hit ‘Believe.’ I knew she was married to Sonny Bono, and I knew Chaz Bono was her son. I knew she was a LGBTI icon. But that’s about all I knew of the star upon walking into that theater last weekend. Needless to say, I left the show feeling like a stronger, more powerful version of myself. This is the effect Cher can have on people.
The show is a biography of Cher’s life, featuring all her hit songs. Three women play Cher at different points in her career. There’s Baby Cher (played by Micaela Diamond), Lady Cher (played by Teal Wicks), and Star Cher (played by Stephanie J. Block). Throughout the show, the three versions of Cher talk to each other. They gave each other advice on how to handle everything from not being taken seriously in the music industry to leaving Sonny, who happened to control all the money made off Cher’s talent. And I mean, don’t we all wish we could convene with ourselves at different stages of our lives?
Successful Woman in a Man’s World
I spoke with Teal Wicks about her role in the show and how it feels portraying the 1970s showbiz world in the era of #MeToo.
For Wicks, it was a challenge to get into the headspace of Sonny and Cher’s relationship at the time — married, but also business partners.
‘It was interesting for me to learn why Cher couldn’t just leave him,’ Wicks says. ‘Divorce was a faux-pas.’
At one point during the show, Cher asks Sonny (played by Jarrod Spector) if it’s true that he owns 95% of Cher Inc., and their lawyer owns the other 5%. It was, and this put Cher in a difficult position. She was unhappy in her marriage at that point, working incredibly long hours with barely enough time to spend with Chaz.
‘It’s not just about a breakup or a marriage falling apart,’ Wicks says. ‘But how her whole life was tied up in that contract.’
It is clear that women, no matter how brilliant and successful, didn’t have the same autonomy business-wise that men had.
‘Cher was the main attraction in Sonny & Cher,’ Wicks explains. ‘But everything was run by men. Every person creating the show were men.’
It’s true: the directors and videographers were men. Bob Mackie, however beautiful and feminine his costumes were, was still a man. Sonny, of course, a man.
‘It makes me grateful that I’m a woman in 2018, where women have more of a voice,’ Wicks says, noting that obviously women still have a long way to go in terms of true equity.
Six decade-long career
Cher’s career has spanned six decades. She’s currently having a big new chapter in her career as well. This past summer, she guest starred in Mamma Mia 2, which was a huge success. In September, the star released her 26th LP — an ABBA cover album. She’s also working on a second ABBA cover album. It is quite obvious this icon isn’t going away any time soon.
And a powerful woman standing her ground is exactly what we need right now.
‘It feels like a very female-empowered story with all the bumps and warts and bruises that come with being a successful woman,’ Wicks says of the show.
‘She kicked ass in a male-dominated world,’ Wicks states. ‘That’s a good message for now.’