The opening-night red carpet of Broadway’s The Cher Show kicked off with the only person besides the woman herself who screams “Cher”: costume designer Bob Mackie. A nine-time Emmy winner, Mackie’s designs capture as much attention as any element of The Cher Show and for good reason. “I had the actual [original costumes] in boxes in storage that we could look at and pattern,” he revealed to Playbill at the opening-night celebration at Pier 60 in Manhattan on December 3.
As for his design motto for his decades working with Cher: “In the show, she says, ‘Bob, go big! I want to go real big.’ That's the way her mind works. That's what makes her comfortable. She's a very smart girl, she always gets printed.
“I designed for a lot of different women and you do it differently for everyone,” he said. “As a costume designer, you design for the character in the play, and she was definitely a character on her own, and she was never intimidated by what she wore.” But the look he loves the most in the show? “I love it when she comes out in the big Mohawk and the audience goes crazy.” Watch his full interview in the video below.
We also greeted ensemblist Taurean Everett, who has the dual pleasure of playing Mackie’s assistant onstage and rocking the iconic Native American costume as a back-up dancer. Everett let us in on his gym routine and honing those abs of steel, before Tony nominee Emily Skinner joined the livestream to talk about playing Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt, and nailing the comedic timing of the role.
Cher herself has been deeply involved in the show and has helped inform the performances of the full cast, including Michael Campayno, who plays her former boyfriend Rob Camilletti. “Cher came to my dressing room about two weeks ago and she was like, ’You have to find more strength and more groundedness because even though Rob was 23 and I was 40, Rob was the adult in our relationship,’” Campayno said. “Stephanie [J. Block] is such a powerhouse, and she has such a heart of gold, and when I really took the strength and the power in the scene, she just released.
“There's so much flashiness and so much showmanship in the show because that's who she was, but the Rob stuff is so nice because it's so connected. It allows Stephanie and I to just drop in.”
Campayno made his Broadway debut in Wicked as Fiyero, as did Teal Wicks, who plays Cher in her “Lady” phase. Wicks says that a lot of the physicality she brings to her portrayal of the icon comes from videos she watched while researching the role. “I still watch them,” she says. “There’ll be a few days where I think I’m not nailing it, so I’ll go—thank God for YouTube—and find a Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour or even a Cher solo show and figure out what she's doing.”
Matthew Hydzik, who plays Greg Allman, and Michael Berresse, who plays Bob Mackie, talked about bringing the real-life legends to life, and choreographer Christopher Gattelli spoke about finding the balance of storytelling and showstopping movement for the production. Tony nominee Jarrod Spector, who has been on Broadway as ’60s pop icons before (in Jersey Boys as Frankie Valli and Beautiful as Barry Mann), spoke about bringing Sonny Bono to life—and why, despite the decade, he’s not anything like the other two guys. “Frankie and Barry's energy are, to me, a little closer,” he said. “They're all going to be certainly a little bit similar because I'm one person cast as all of them, but then finding the differences in them—the things that are so specific about the way Sonny speaks or holds himself, that's the fun of being an actor.”
Spector spends most of his time onstage with “Babe,” played by Micaela Diamond. As the youngest of the Chers, Diamond spoke about making sure that she and her two counterparts all felt like aspects of one woman. “We had a great speech coach, Kate Wilson, who is here tonight. She really helped us first form our sisterhood and how we would finish each other's sentences ... and once we found that we started to drop into her -isms, and then since Chicago all three of us have been able to flow as Cher and stay true to who we are, which is magical when you have that sisterhood, when you all genuinely respect each other and love each other.”
“I am the Mama Bear for sure,” Block told Playbill. The night peaked when Block, who plays “Star,” came on camera. Having made her Broadway debut as Liza Minnelli in The Boy From Oz, Block is back playing a real-life character. “Now, playing Liza was such a beautiful challenge ... now bringing on Cher, trusting my instincts, knowing I have aged and become wiser and [knowing] my voice is worth something, my instincts, my knowledge is worth something” makes all the difference. “I was a little gun shy to take this role because of the overwhelming experience that Liza was and the process bringing her to the stage and everybody's opinions of when they knew her, how they now her, what they remember about her. But I've learned.”
Watch the full interview in the video above.
And watch Block in her special opening night curtain call performance alongside Cher below: