Belting out hits by the Goddess of Pop in the Neil Simon Theatre while wearing an over-the-top Bob Mackie ensemble for the first time was equally exhilarating and daunting for Micaela Diamond.
“It was crazy and thrilling,” the 19-year-old says in her small blue-and-white dressing room, floors above the Broadway stage where she made her debut in December. “There was a lot of expectation with this show, that’s the thing about recreating such an iconic human being.”
Diamond hits her milestone 100th “The Cher Show” performance Thursday as “Babe,” the youngest third of the pop performer’s stage personas who seamlessly takes the audience back in time to the “Sonny and Cher” days.
A daunting teen task
Before landing the role of Cher on Broadway, Diamond was an eager 18-year-old graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School with a Carnegie Mellon acceptance letter in hand.
She secured an agent after playing Louise in her school’s “Gypsy” adaptation and suddenly found herself auditioning for a Broadway role alongside Stephanie J. Block (“Star”) and Teal Wicks (“Lady”).
“I almost didn’t go in [to the audition] because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of a huge casting company right before I was about to leave,” Diamond recalls. “I was leaving for college in two days and didn’t know whether to pack up my room at my mom’s New York City apartment or not.”
Needless to say. Diamond didn’t made it to Carnegie. And she still calls her mom’s Jamaica apartment home. “I’m not going to pay rent until I have to,” she says, sitting in front of a vanity that’s outlined with black-and-white photo clippings of Cher. A Cher Barbie — a gift from the artist herself — sits atop her mirror.
Diamond instead went straight to Broadway to portray — not impersonate — a woman she’d admired from bingeing 2010’s “Burlesque.”
“We’ve been at it for about a year now, which is crazy,” she says, crediting co-stars Block and Wicks, and actor Jared Spector (Sonny), as role models who’ve helped her adjust to The Great White Way. “I think there are a lot of lessons I’ve learned to make it less daunting, one of them being that I have to tell Cher through my own being. Some people aren’t going to like that, but it all goes back to the importance of telling her story first.”
Heading straight to Broadway has matured Diamond beyond her years. Having Cher as a mentor helped, too. Diamond says she’s spent countless hours spiraling from one YouTube video to the next of Cher’s old performances, “Comedy Hour” episodes and interviews to ensure her stage appearance doesn’t come off as mockery.
Cher has even sat down in Diamond’s dressing room — on a blue couch lined with a faux-fur blanket — to share personal stories and give show tips. Diamond calls them “gifts.”
Those gifts manifest themselves in the mental — like giving Diamond a newfound sense of confidence and empowerment — and the physical — like an “incredible” bond with her co-stars and learning how to keep her voice and body healthy.
“I got very lucky that this is my first because it’s a huge learning experience, sprinkled in sequins and glitter,” Diamond says.
A Diamond warrior
With a steady schedule of eight shows a week, Diamond has settled into a Broadway routine. On one-show days, she’s able to squeeze in a Pilates class, meet friends or read (she’s currently reading “The Little Book of Shakespeare”). On two-show days, she’s “pretty much here all day.”
“Sometimes I have to get acupuncture and PT because my body is falling apart,” she says.
Balancing a rigorous schedule, Diamond, Wicks and Block have found little ways to support one another. Before every show, they pick “goddess warrior” cards in the theater’s basement.
“It’s a stack of cards we lay out face down. Whichever one we’re drawn to, we pull out, and it’s something we help each other focus on through the show,” she says, explaining that the cards contain messages like “calmness” and “be near water.”
“We have to have a check-in because we’re playing the same person and that’s really special,” she says. “Every day it’s such a joy to play with them and find out different aspects of who Cher is.”
Currently, Diamond plans to stick around as “Babe” for the show’s open run and is recording the show’s first cast album. She says she’s considering heading back to school in the future to focus on gender studies.
‘The Cher Show’ plays an open run at the Neil Simon Theatre. 250 W. 52nd St., thechershowbroadway.com.