A Cher musical is Broadway-bound

Cher attends Q Thursdays at the Marquee Club in New York City, on June 27, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Here comes Cher. And Cher. And Cher.

A new musical using Cher's songs to tell her story - with three actresses playing different aspects of her life - is heading for Broadway.

The Cher Show will play first in Chicago, beginning performances June 12 at the Oriental Theater and running for five weeks. It will then transfer to the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway, opening next fall, the producers, Flody Suarez and Jeffrey Seller, said Thursday.

"We have been discussing this musical for 10 years," Cher, a pop star and Academy Award-winning actress, said in a statement. "It's exciting and scary."

The musical has an unusual approach - it will be structured like a variety show, nodding to The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, which helped propel her to celebrity in the 1970s. The show currently features all or part of 35 to 40 of Cher's best known songs.

"The Cher Show is not linear, and it is entirely psychological - it takes place in her psychological closet, and in that closet is everything she's ever been in her life - everything she has ever played, every song she's sung, everyone she's been married to, every pair of shoes she's worn, every success and every failure," said Rick Elice, who is writing the show's book.

Elice brings significant know-how to the project - he co-wrote the book for Jersey Boys, which combined the jukebox musical and the biomusical to tell the stories of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons using their song catalogue. That musical was an enormous success, running for 11 years on Broadway (and soon to reopen in slimmed-down fashion off-Broadway).

The show is informed by a series of interviews Elice has conducted with Cher. And Cher has been deeply involved in the show's development, including reading scripts and coming to workshops.

The Cher Show is one of many jukebox biomusicals now in development, including Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, also featuring three actresses playing the title role, which is scheduled to run this fall at La Jolla Playhouse in California; Ain't Too Proud - The Life And Times Of The Temptations, now playing at Berkeley Repertory Theater in California; and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, which is scheduled to open in London in the spring.

The Cher Show has not yet committed to a cast - there is a four-week workshop scheduled this fall, after which actors for the commercial productions will be chosen. In addition to the three actresses playing Cher, there will be actors portraying Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman (her former husbands) and Bob Mackie (her onetime costume designer).

The show's creative team includes director Jason Moore (Avenue Q) and choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies). Suarez is a former television executive; Seller is a prominent Broadway producer best known as the lead producer of Hamilton. The two men are also developing projects for Universal Television.

Suarez first proposed a Cher musical a decade ago, after picking up a recording of her greatest hits while travelling in Spain.

"The show is very funny, emotional, and really tells you how Cher managed to keep knocking down doors that were closed against her - she forced people to see her," he said. "She's had a big roller coaster of a life, and it's all played out in the media, but this show lets the audience underneath all of that, to see what they didn't see in the tabloids."

The star is known for her brazen fashion sense, and that will inform the show's aesthetic. The producers have not yet named a costume designer, but Suarez said "she's had such iconic looks, and that will be a big part of the show and a big part of the budget".

Cher, by the way, has appeared on Broadway: In 1982, she played Sissy in Come Back To The 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, a role she reprised in a film adaptation.

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