Arlene Phillips and Oti Mabuse to stage new production of musical The Cher Show

·4-min read

Choreographer Arlene Phillips has said her “dream has come true” to direct the European premiere of a musical about the life of pop superstar Cher.

The former Strictly Come Dancing judge, who is a lifelong fan of the singer, will direct The Cher Show and will be joined by Strictly professional dancer Oti Mabuse, who will create the choreography, and Gabriella Slade, who will create the costumes.

Oti Mabuse, Arlene Phillips and Gabriella Slade (Oliver Rosser)
Oti Mabuse, Arlene Phillips and Gabriella Slade (Oliver Rosser)

The show, which has already been a hit on Broadway, features some of Cher’s biggest hits, including I Got You Babe, Believe, Strong Enough and The Shoop Shoop Song.

It charts her rise from a young child with big dreams to the dizzying heights of global stardom, and documents her relationships with her mother, singer Sonny Bono, and fashion designer and costumier Bob Mackie.

The news comes shortly after it was announced that Cher will also get the big screen biopic treatment and will serve as a producer on the film alongside Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, known for their work on the Mamma Mia! franchise, in which the singer has appeared.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Premiere – London
Cher attending the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Ian West/PA)

Phillips told the PA news agency: “I am just over the moon that I am actually going to work on a show about someone who I’ve idolised since the mid-60s with I Got You Babe.

“I just fell in love, I wanted to dress like Cher, look like Cher, definitely sound like Cher, which I did not and could not, but it’s the ultimate show for me.

Watch: Oti Mabuse reveals the next series of Strictly will be her last

“I remember on a black and white TV seeing Sonny and Cher and I think it was the sound of her voice. It’s a sound that raises the hairs on your arms and tingles your spine.

“And for me that was Cher, that soulful, pop sound that just digs into you, drives into you. You have kind of no clue, you don’t quite understand how it can make you feel so thrilled and excited.”

Phillips, who has worked on music videos for music superstars including Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin, said she is yet to meet Cher.

Women of The Year Lunch and Awards 2019 – London
Arlene Phillips (Ian West/PA)

She said: “It would be my absolute dream to meet her but I’ve always missed out.

“I have made music videos for just about every pop diva, all these strong female singers, but never Cher, our paths haven’t crossed.

“When I started making music videos for MTV, at the start of the MTV revolution, I worked pretty much with three directors constantly and Cher was never in their path, but I would love to do something with her.

“It’s not about dancing. It’s about presence. It’s about the walk. It’s about the stance. That inner determination. So that would be really nice. But right now my dream has come true in directing the show.”

Mabuse told PA: “My mum is a big Cher fan and I just remember us playing songs, like Strong Enough, and feeling so empowered as little girls and being in wonder of her outfits and her looks and the confidence that she had.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2019 – London
Oti Mabuse (Ian West/PA)

“To be asked to actually choreograph her musical, it’s such an honour, because you get to really play a part in what you kind of feel her life should have looked like in dance, making all of those music videos, all of those concerts, all of those behind the scenes stories come to life.”

Discussing her vision for the numbers, she said: “I love big, I want big, I want to try and make it as big as possible. I’m going to try and make it as Cher as possible.

“I want the dancers to feel like they are dancing full-out choreography and fresh choreography as well, because obviously I’m not from the musical theatre world, so just to bring just my little uniqueness to it and make everybody feel good.”

The Cher Show will open at the Leicester Curve on April 15 2022 and tour the UK and Ireland.

Watch: Cher biopic produced by Mamma Mia! team

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