Cher is so iconic that it took three actresses to play her. In this episode of #BroadwaySandwich, go backstage on The Cher Show with actress Teal Wicks to find out what it takes to embody the legendary performer!
Posted by ALL ARTS on Wednesday, August 28, 2019
How do you embody a living icon? For Teal Wicks, snagging the role of a younger Cher in “The Cher Show” on Broadway was a dream gig — but one that came with its own unique set of challenges for the stage veteran.
“There are people that do incredible impersonations of her that have made careers out of it,” the actress, who previously starred in “Wicked” and “Finding Neverland,” said in the latest episode of Broadway Sandwich, now streaming in the video above. “But the three of us who play her in the show, we’re not impersonators. We’re actors. We want to get to the heart of it.”
With that in mind, Wicks poured over decades worth of footage from Cher’s interviews and performances, hoping to master the mannerisms that helped make the Goddess of Pop so easily identifiable. For her audition, she even bought herself a long, shiny black wig.
“The day before the final callback, I put it on to run errands around town. Just to normalize it,” she explained to host Garen Scribner.
The rest is, of course, Cher history. Wicks nabbed the part and played the diva on Broadway from its opening performance in Dec. 2018 through Aug. 18, when the show had its final curtain call at the Neil Simon Theatre.
And while Wicks may have packed away her wig and costumes, the memories of playing the legendary singer linger still. We caught up with the star to talk about some of her favorite moments from the show, working with Cher and more.
What were some of your first experiences with Cher’s music?
I’m a child of the 1980s, so I definitely remember “If I Could Turn Back Time” — and especially the music video everyone thought was so provocative. I didn’t have MTV then, so I had no idea what the big deal was. But I remember hearing the song everywhere. That was before I knew that Cher was the same person from Sonny and Cher. Because I knew “I Got You Babe,” but those songs are in completely different musical worlds; it was years before I realized they were even by Cher.
Thirty years from now, when you look back at your time on “The Cher Show,” what will you remember? Are there specific days or moments that stand out to you?
Absolutely! This show has been a lot of firsts and career goals achieved. Being interviewed for Rolling Stone, getting a two-page spread in Vanity Fair, performing and sitting on the couch with Cher herself on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
But there are two specific days that I will always remember: The first being our last show in Chicago for our pre-Broadway run. Our beautiful, very technical set was having some malfunctions, so we couldn’t use it and do our whole show. We had to make a game-time call of what to do — cancel the show altogether or do some sort of abridged version. The whole company met, and it was very emotional, and we decided to just do a mini-concert of the songs from our show in our street clothes with chairs onstage for the whole cast to sit on. It all went great, and then we ran off to our closing night party to laugh and celebrate the craziness of live theater. We call that performance “The Chair Show.”
The second is the Tony Awards. This was my first time ever performing on the Tonys. It was so fun spending the whole day with the company, watching Bob Mackie win for costumes and our “Star,” Stephanie J. Block, win for best actress. I will never forget a bunch of my cast sitting in the basement of the Neil Simon Theatre; we just got back from doing our number for the broadcast; we were all half in and out of our costumes, with bottles of champagne, waiting for the Best Leading Actress in a Musical winner to be announced, and then screaming and crying when our girl won.
What has it been like to work with the real Cher?
An absolute trip! I did not see this role and this experience coming. Not only is it amazing that now this incredible icon of woman knows me by name, but I got to spend quality time with the person I was playing on stage. That was the best gift; after trying to shape my role off of interviews and YouTube videos, I finally got to have one on one time with her to really hone in on all her mannerisms and how she tells a story. Not many actors have that opportunity and I’m so grateful we had that time together.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Top Image: Teal Wicks and Garen Scribner in Broadway Sandwich.