The Cher Show Comes to Denver on a Limited Run | Westword

The Cher Show Comes to Denver on a Limited Run

The Cher Show, a musical celebrating Cher's life, is at the Buell Theatre from May 3 to May 5.
The musical is set to Cher's hits.
The musical is set to Cher's hits. Courtesy of Meredith Mashburn Photography
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The first national tour of The Cher Show is coming to the Buell Theatre for a three-day limited run in May, giving Denverites a rare opportunity to catch the Tony Award-winning musical that captures the indomitable spirit of Cher, an icon who has dazzled for decades.

"From the moment I was cast, the DCPA was the venue I was most looking forward to," says cast member Grace Napoletano, a May 2023 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. "Colorado will always feel like a second home to me. I met my chosen family here and had some of the most formative years of my life at the University of Northern Colorado. Not only did I grow up here, but I grew into myself. To take a bow on the Buell stage, one year after graduating just an hour away in Greeley, feels incredibly full-circle. In the words of Cher, 'I don’t think this means I am somebody, but I guess I’m on my way.'"

In the touring production, Napoletano serves as an ensemble member and understudy for the Babe, a 1950s and 1960s version of the titular star. Unlike some biographical jukebox musicals in which one performer plays the star throughout the performance, such as Beautiful: The Carole King Musical or the recent MJ, this production has three different actors playing Cher at three different points in her life: the Babe, Lady (1970s) and Star (1980s and 1990s).

Rather than silo these different versions of Cher into their respective decades, in The Cher Show, the characters support and interact with one another throughout the production, reflecting the internal and external battles Cher faced along the way. Using Cher's own chart-topping hits, writer Rick Elice creates a narrative that follows the musician's journey from a young singer to a global superstar, navigating personal and professional highs and lows.
click to enlarge photo of actors on stage in the musical called the cher show
"We jump from ’80s music video to ’60s social dance, to showgirl kick lines, to runway fashion, to jazz, and much, much more."
Courtesy of Meredith Mashburn Photography
The Cher Show premiered at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago in June 2018, followed by a Broadway run beginning in November 2018. After its success in New York City, the show was scheduled to begin its U.S. tour in 2021 but was postponed because of the pandemic, so it first went on a revamped U.K. tour in 2022 before returning to the United States for its current national tour.

Despite the namesake's legendary status, Napoletano admits that prior to being cast in this production, "honestly, the only music I knew was 'I Got You Babe,' from my mom singing it growing up, and 'Believe,' from hearing it at the club. But now? I’ll never stop discovering her music. She is an incredibly resilient and multi-talented artist; like many women before and after her, she has constantly had to morph and change to stay relevant, and boy, has she ever."

Napoletano claims that the cast never gets tired of listening to Cher's music and will request it at the bars they frequent after performances. She describes joining the "fierce" ensemble dancer company as her most difficult challenge.

"Within the show, we have many different dance styles that span many different decades, which is what makes this show so entertaining but also demanding," she says. "We jump from ’80s music video to ’60s social dance, to showgirl kick lines, to runway fashion, to jazz and much, much more. The tools I was given through dance education at UNC gave me the foundation I needed to book this job and continue to excel in it. But nothing can prepare you for when you get cast in your first big dance ensemble and the girl next to you is a former Rockette."

When asked about her favorite part of the process thus far, Napoletano mentions her extensive costume fittings with pieces made by Cher's real costume designer, Bob Mackie. Although the costumes leave little to the imagination, she enjoys "every inch of them (or lack thereof)."
click to enlarge photo of actors on stage in the musical called the cher show
Costumes were created by Bob Mackie.
Courtesy of Meredith Mashburn Photography
Her favorite costume is worn during the Las Vegas-inspired musical sequence "When The Money's Gone." This stunning ensemble features custom bedazzled LaDuca dance shoes, sparkly fishnets and a jewel-encrusted leotard/corset with nude illusion cutouts accented by massive ostrich feather bustles at the back. It's topped with a heavy, ornate headpiece decorated with matching jewels and feathers, and the actors carry large feather fans that match their costumes.

"They weigh a couple pounds each," Napoletano notes. "Don’t even get me started on the Bob Mackie runway musical number; for more on that, you’ll have to come see the show."

The Cher Show encapsulates themes of resilience and reinvention, mirroring Cher’s real-life tenacity. Napoletano finds personal resonance in the show’s message, particularly through the powerful finale, 'Believe.'

"The phrase 'life after love' has stuck with me ever since I got into the rehearsal room," she says. "Two months before I booked this job, just days before I moved to New York City, I lost someone very close to me. ... When I booked The Cher Show, I felt like the universe was showing me that there was life to be had after loss and that my life would continue to be enriched because I had loved so deeply.

"Every single night I go on that stage and perform the finale, 'Believe,' I am struck with the lyrics of needing time and love to move on, to feel strong," Napoletano continues. "To have a job like this, my dream job, less than a year after being shattered by grief feels nothing short of a miracle. At the very end of this number, we turn our backs to the audience and open our arms up to the heavens. I take this moment to bask in the warmth of the stage lights, hear the sound of the crowd, feel the sweat radiating off of me, and to be thankful that I am alive — that I am here."

The Cher Show, Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5, Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1400 Curtis Street. Get tickets at
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