To the world, Cher is a multifaceted actress, singer and icon whose influence on popular culture is without parallel. To movie, television and theater director Jason Moore, she’s also a real-life superhero.
“As queer people, we look at divas because their individuality, fearlessness and confidence represent acceptance and belief in ourselves,” Moore told HuffPost. “Being authentic is Cher’s superpower. Her authenticity to herself is her salvation.”
Given Moore’s admiration for Cher, it’s no wonder he had “a blast” bringing “The Cher Show,” now playing at New York’s Neil Simon Theatre, to Broadway. The jukebox musical features 35 of Cher’s most beloved songs, including “Believe” and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” and fashions them into a colorful retelling of her journey from gangly adolescent to global superstar.
The action is divided between three actresses, including Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block, who portray Cher at different points in her life and career. (Catch a sneak peek at scenes from “The Cher Show” in the video above.)
Moore, who also directed the 2004 Broadway smash “Avenue Q” and the 2012 film “Pitch Perfect,” spoke with HuffPost about the challenges of bringing a living legend to life on Broadway and the wisdom he hopes audiences take away from his work.
What do you find most compelling about Cher’s story specifically?
One of the things I love about her — and I think many people love about her — is that she’s able to be this larger-than-life diva who can embody 1,000 different things and wear anything, yet somehow, it’s very authentic.
You feel like she’s going to say what she thinks, but that you can go and have a hamburger with her. She’s somehow both planet-sized and grounded. Plus, I realized how many songs and reinventions she’s had, and it just seemed like a great story to put onstage.
Were there challenges in staging “The Cher Show” that maybe wouldn’t have been present had its subject been a fictional character?
Any theatrical or cinematic adaptation of someone’s life is going to be an interpretation. It will never be their life. Musicals, by definition, are not realism. We weren’t basing this piece on a book. It was really created from the stories she told Rick Elice, our book writer, and me, in a series of interviews. It wasn’t meant to be a documentary about her life.
How involved was Cher in the creative process?
It started with two weeks of sitting with Rick and me, and going through the stories of her life. When she’d see a reading or the words on the page, she’d say, “No, this is what actually happened. This line might be more helpful.”
So she’s always been the biggest influencer in the way the story was put together. She wasn’t in rehearsal every day. But she’d come to all the key points, to see how we’d interpreted things. One on one, she’s a very accessible, vulnerable and honest person.
Given other highlights in your career like “Avenue Q” and “Pitch Perfect,” how do you see “The Cher Show” as fitting into your oeuvre?
If you look at all of them, they all have some degree of the story of the outsider. The underdog, the outsider story is one that I identify with, and one that I think many people from all walks of life identify with, so that’s what links my work together.
As a director, what are you hoping to explore on stage or in film next that you haven’t before?
I’d love to do a big action comedy. I’d love to do a small, intimate drama. It’d be great to do a science fiction movie, too.
If there’s one message you want audiences to take away from “The Cher Show,” what would that be?
The way to be your best self, to be your own diva, is to face your fears — not to think that they shouldn’t exist, but to face them. And you can look fierce and sound fierce while you’re doing it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.