Cher

Cher sets her priorities straight early on, during the only time she speaks to the audience at length.

"Does this headdress make my ass look big?"

At 63, the timeless pop star is still funny, still down to earth, still endearingly ridiculous in the Mayan goddess outfit she wears each night to ride a chariot down from the rafters.

And, to answer the question — no. Her tush is still impressively proportionate, even when she turns around to scrutinize it with us on the giant overhead video screen.

Sunday wraps the eternal pop star’s year in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Don’t fear, she is due back next April and May. As long as Cher plans to keep showing her booty, there’s no better place to bare it than Vegas.

This production show set to her hits is not so different from what Cirque du Soleil is doing with the Beatles and Elvis Presley. It even has acrobats. The biggest difference is the real Cher turns up now and then to model a parade of outfits.

It should be no surprise after 44 years that Cher isn’t the type of performer who goes all out to break a sweat for you. The production mirrors her singing: strong but detached, fine for the moment but forgettable.

It’s funny when people tell me Cher lip-syncs, as if they have some inside knowledge. You can close your eyes and hear that the vocals are serviceable but not studio quality, and that it hardly matters because the show is about what you see with your eyes open.

As spectacle goes, it’s first-rate. The giant video wall built for Celine Dion has been enhanced with real scenery on a stage with a 65-foot bridge between two towers. The blend of video and three-dimensional scenery creates an impressive street scene for an expensive new segment (a good clue Cher will extend her two-year contract, which would be up in May).

Alas, the segment itself is a throwback to the type of ’70s variety TV that hasn’t aged as well as she has. Dancers cavort amid the neon in fluorescent zoot suits. Cher comes out in one herself — complete with mustache — to sing not a ’40s tune, but a cheesy arrangement of Bob Seger’s "Fire Down Below," before returning as a female vamp for "Old Time Rock & Roll."

With the arguable exception of "Walking in Memphis," every song is given a deluxe treatment. A gondola delivers her for a power-ballad "After All" duet with music director Paul Mirkovich. A giant cue ball cracks open for "Love Hurts" (which replaces the older hit "The Way of Love"). Much of the song list skips Cher’s own hits — "We All Sleep Alone," "Just Like Jesse James" — in favor of universally familiar covers, from disco to U2.

The Bob Mackie costume parade holds the focus. Now she’s a hippie chick in red mini and boots! Now she’s a sort of flapper mermaid! But time spent on these costume changes means time without Cher onstage.

When she takes us "into the closet" for her old hits, it’s two minutes of gypsy dancing to set up two minutes of "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves." There’s a four-minute video tribute to Sonny Bono. Another four minutes of movie clips.

At least they’re on a really, really big screen. And "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" footage reminds you of how we got from there to here, and how present-day Cher is still old-school Vegas variety in the most scattershot sense. If I find it boring beyond the stagecraft, that doesn’t mean you will.

During the confetti-strewn "Believe" finale, I looked around to see a cross-section of Vegas itself, and similarly mixed reactions: Young women kicking off their impossibly high heels to dance barefoot. Right next to them, retirement-age people slouched in their seats looking bored, perhaps wondering when Celine will be back.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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