65° Good Afternoon
65° Good Afternoon

'The Cher Show' gives actress Stephanie J. Block a newfound confidence 

"I'm going to walk with my head tall and I'm not going to try to hide anything because Cher doesn't."

Stephanie J. Block in "The Cher Show" at

Stephanie J. Block in "The Cher Show" at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Broadway's Stephanie J. Block turned down the chance to be “The Cher Show’s” star many times before eventually slipping seamlessly into the title role.

The actress, who got her start playing Liza Minnelli in “The Boy From Oz,” was reluctant to sign on to another project that walked a thin line between masterful recreation and cheesy impersonation, as all jukebox musicals do.

“You need to put Y.E.S. in all caps and then about 16 exclamation points after that,” Block, 46, says of her initial reluctance to portray the “living, breathing icon” that is Cher, the Goddess of Pop.

Over lunch with the production’s director, Jason Moore, she was ultimately drawn into “The Cher Show,” a musical that spans the artist’s very public romances with Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman, and decades-long career in television, comedy, theater, film and, of course, music. It splits the leading role between three actresses who interact to show the star’s internal thoughts and conflicts.

“He described it in a spiritual, meta way,” Block says of the script that presents the audience with glittered powerhouses in Bob Mackie designs.

“Cher always refers to her legions of fans and what she does onstage as a ministry, and I’ve felt that,” she says, explaining that fans use the show as an opportunity to speak directly to and connect with Cher. “It truly is like a fellowship. It’s wild; not like anything else I’ve experienced.”

Cher’s got you, babe

Perhaps Cher herself is the one major reason Block and “The Cher Show” stars (Micaela Diamond as Babe and Teal Wicks as Lady) have managed to blur the line between icon and stage actress.

The 72-year-old has had a heavy hand in the show’s production, meeting with each actress individually to provide pointers.

“A lot of work. A lot of work has been done,” Block says. “Since Chicago [previews], it has morphed and I’ll be very honest, the way it has evolved has brought me to become more like Cher than initially presented to me.”  

Block has had six “moments” with Cher, including two 45-minute sessions during which the actress shared stories from her past. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to keep those personal for me,” she says, adding that she’s developed a private relationship with the singer whom she now reaches by text.

Sitting down with Cher was only part of the process. Block studied hours of YouTube videos, old interviews and performances to take on the larger-than-life persona.

The recognizable Cher voice came to Block while she was studying lines on a vacation with her family in Cape Cod.

“I was just bleaching my teeth one day and reading all the lines and my husband, from the other room, he says, ‘Stephanie, you found it. Whatever you’re doing you sound exactly like Cher,’ ” she says, demonstrating. “That was the ah-ha, holy crap, I’ve found it while bleaching my effing teeth!" 

To complete the onstage illusion, Block (wearing Cher’s iconic outfits and wigs) riffs with the audience during the production without breaking character. “I certainly have a dozen Cher-isms that would be appropriate,” she says.

Embodying the star’s spunk, she makes comments about late-arriving audience members, fans using their phones and whatever else may come up at the moment.

“Luckily, all of the creators and producers were very open and it just afforded me this really great opportunity to speak my mind and put my personal stamp — it’s all Cher — but to put my personal Stephanie stamp on what ‘The Cher Show’ needed to be in my eyes,” she says.

There’s no turning back time

Borrowing such a massive personality, Block says there’s simply no going back from here. Though she admits she’s never been one to shy away from speaking her mind, “The Cher Show” has given her a confidence she didn’t know she’d ever have.

"Being Cher has really given me an allowance to be like, well, what would Cher do? WWCD? She doesn’t really give, pardon me, a f---,” she says. “She comes from a place of knowing and experience and wisdom. I thought this is my opportunity to do the same."

That opportunity came in the form of 29 elaborate Bob Mackie-created designs, exact replicas of the over-the-top outfits Cher wore on “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” and at events such as the 1986 Academy Awards.

“I was like you know what, this is my physique. I am who I am. My thighs are the size they are. My waist is the size that it is. My breasts are the size that they are,” she explains, noting that she’s getting “teary-eyed.” “I’m going to walk with my head tall and I’m not going to try to hide anything because Cher doesn't.

“It’s the first time as a 46-year-old woman that I’m stepping onstage and owning my person. My entire person. The first time in my life … You have to love yourself first before those clothes are going to do anything.”

“The Cher Show” is currently playing an open run at the Neil Simon Theatre.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Entertainment photos & videos