Fans of award-winning singer and actress Cher aren’t going to be disappointed at the glitz and glamour that she’ll serve up in her new Las Vegas residency starting Wednesday night at the new Park Theater at Monte Carlo.
Cher will dazzle in 12 extravagant costumes for her new show “Classic Cher.” Legendary designer Bob Mackie will fly in Monday for final tweaks ahead of the midweek premiere. Cher also is putting final touches on the production in around-the-clock rehearsals.
“I had the opportunity to catch a few minutes of rehearsal, and the staging is spectacular. As you would expect, Cher has created an incredible production that not only will showcase her hit songs, but also will utilize all of the theater’s technical elements.
“You have never seen Cher like this,” said Park Theater Executive Director and General Manager Daniel Bernbach. “We are excited about welcoming one of the greatest entertainment icons to Park Theater for a special extended engagement.”
I’m reliably told that Cher has created a “Woman’s World” opening number, and at one point, she will be seen atop a life-sized elephant puppet wearing an East Indian outfit. Cher previously headlined at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
“There will be plenty of flesh through the mesh,” Bob told me with a little laugh Thursday morning. “All classy and polite, but very sexy for the ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ number.”
Cher will wear bell-bottoms from her 1960s hit beginnings and maintain her iconic looks through the decades as a half-breed Native American and for a big-surprise disco number.
To this day, Cher and Bob are remembered for the extraordinary creation she wore to the 1986 Academy Awards: A huge feathered Mohawk headdress with a bejeweled loincloth, knee-high boots, chain-link top and black stretch pants.
“It’s funny, but she’s never actually worn that to perform. But everything for the new Las Vegas show falls into that category,” Bob added.
There are costumes that Cher hasn’t worn for a while and didn’t manage to for her last “Dressed to Kill” Tour, which stopped at MGM Grand Garden Arena with Cyndi Lauper. Here’s a YouTube video of a concert stop in 2014.
Said Bob: “She’s very excited about this new Las Vegas show. She’s feeling well and in great shape — slim and gorgeous. She always gets a great reaction from her amazing audiences who cover every age bracket.
“She has young kids to adults our age and drag queens. Cher has this amazing charisma that connects with everybody. She simply fascinates people. She is the epitome of showbiz, and you don’t ever forget her. For this show, you never lose her for a minute.”
Bob designed for “Hallelujah Hollywood” at MGM Grand, now Bally’s, from 1974 to1980 and “Jubilee!” at Bally’s from 1981 to 2016. He attended the final show, and our Editor Don Chareunsy interviewed him after the final performance.
Images of many of Bob’s designs and drawings of the two productions are on display in the showgirl collection at the UNLV Library Digital Collection. I asked Bob, who also has designed gowns for Diana Ross, who also opens on the Strip on Wednesday, about Las Vegas.
He told me, “It’s a very comfortable fit for me. I understand Las Vegas. I dressed Mitzi Gaynor and Ann-Margret. But you design for your star. If Cher came out in a conservative suit or evening gown and sang 20 songs, people would be disappointed.
“She genuinely likes the outrageous and flamboyant, and you’re going to enjoy that when she steps onstage Wednesday.
“I love what I do, which is why I haven’t retired. My first TV series was with Judy Garland in 1963, so it’s been 50-plus years. I’m still on QVC with my designs, and I’ll be working with Carol Burnett again on her new sitcom.
“I have two New York stage projects next year, too. To me, it’s not work. I enjoy every moment of it. I feel badly for people who hate going to work every day. They can’t wait to retire, and I can’t wait for the next assignment.”