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Cher’s ‘Dressed to Kill’ tour triumphs in Phoenix

Sharlene Celeskey

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A photomontage flashes on the elaborate velvet stage curtain. Suddenly, the curtain drops revealing an elaborate exotic art deco stage bathed in golden amber. And there she is—the ever-dramatic Cher atop an ancient Greek-style column that slowly descends to the stage floor. Her sparkling flame gown and flamboyant feather headdress dwarf her while she sings her newest hit, “Woman’s World.” Then a duet of female dancers quickly removes her gown to reveal an Egyptian inspired, jeweled encrusted costume. Although deceivingly skimpy, it is actually backed by nude soufflé material and not her naked flesh. Although the dancers try to carefully take off her headdress, her wig almost falls off. The long ebony wig is made up of beads and tiny braids completing Cher’s Cleopatra look, Las Vegas style.
March 22, 2014, legendary singer Cher opens her three-month tour, her first in almost 10 years, in Phoenix. (Her last tour billed as her farewell tour ran from 2002-to- – 2005.) The excitement is at a fever pitch at U.S. Airways Center as the doors open late since the sold out show’s crew is still working on the logistics of the concert. Although the audience is older mature, it is still multi-generational as teenagers and young adults are sprinkled throughout. Tonight’s crowd looks like they are celebrating all the holidays: men dressed in various incarnations of Cher stroll by in long curly wigs and glitzy costumes, women of all ages wearing rhinestone and sequined outfits and accessories, lots of spike high heels and platform shoes, plusand two shirtless men in black leather vests and chaps revealing black speedos.
Costumes
Fantastical costumes always play a major part in Cher’s shows, and she changes her outlandish outfits after every other song. Her dazzling outfits are done by British designer Hugh Durant and made to be more durable for touring than her delicate multi-beaded Bob Mackie designs from the ‘70s “Sony and Cher Show.” Cher was heartbroken when Mackie had other commitments and was unable to design her costumes, ending their 43-year-old partnership. Some of her extravagant stagewear includes: a bright hot pink and lime green jumpsuit, a red 60’s style mini dress with large round sequin paillettes, a vivid multi colored layered gypsy dress, a black sequined half skirt with elaborate matching headdress and a gold-beaded, Indian-inspired sari-style gown. One of her most striking costumes is her gold-plated Greek warrior outfit decorated with multi-colored rhinestones. She also wears updated copies of the famous flesh baring, black sequined outfit from her “If I Could Turn Back Time,” video and her famous Native American beaded two-piece with the floor floor-length loin cloth and long white, feathered headdress. She wears a more glitzy copy of her black velvet and sequined outfit from the film “Burlesque.” Each costume change was accompanied by a wig change: a short, hot pink short wig, black wigs in various lengths and styles, red, purple and blonde wigs. For the finale she dons a long wavy wig that is pale blonde in front and jet-black in back.
Sets and Props
Ever changing, grandiose sets accompany the lavish costumes and wigs. The Cher’s most dramatic and stunning prop is the huge, shiny gold Trojan horse that she steps out of. She also sings in the middle of ancient Egyptian Egyptian-type like props, a brightly colored carnival set, and a ‘60’s-inspired stage. At one point she also comes up from below the stage, onstage sitting on a large ornate scarlet beaded chandelier. When she croons her hit “Welcome to Burlesque,” the stage looks similar to the setting in the “Burlesque” film. The spectacular theatrics continue with her final song as she floats across the large arena on a circular platform covered by a shimmering opal colored Indian Indian-style arch. Dancers in well-choreographed numbers entertain the audience both during her costume changes and when she sings. At one point, several male performers twirl from the ceiling over the stage entertaining the crowd with their aerial dance performances.
Standup
Cher dialogues with the audience, speaks very candidly and jokes about herself. Her charm and warmth are what sets her apart from other female entertainers since she talks to the crowd as if they are her friends. She has used stand up comedy as part of her routine since her variety show days. “If I fall on my ass, my shoes are slippery,” she says and explains she is not on drugs and not drunk as others have accuseds her of. She tell us that two hours ago she was in her room crying because the costumes did not fit, she could not remember any dance steps, nor the words to two of her songs. She is surprised at how large the crowd iwas. She refers to her age and jokingly asks, “Are there any people my age out there?” When she hears a loud yes she replies she does not believe it and swears this is her last farewell tour. She explains if she ever tours again, the audience would wonder who is that “old crow.” She stops to fix one of her scarlet sequined palettes on her ‘60s costume and laughs about it. Before she launches into her biggest “Sony and Cher” hits, “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe,” she laughs about bringing the late Sony back for the duet saying, “Sony would love to come out of mothballs.”
Performance
Cher is the only artist to have a hit single in all decades since the ‘60’s, and her set list covers songs from most of those decades. When she sings her “Sony and Cher” duets, the late Sony is projected on a large screen behind her and sings with her. Although Cher says she was the weakest link in this great show, she is wrong as her voice sounds strong and in tune. There are kinks to work out and visible mistakes, but the show is so spectacular and she is so engaging it is hardly noticeable. Every time she enters the stage in a flamboyant costume, the crowd cheers, ; screams and claps roar throughout the huge stadium. Cher proves she is still the number one diva in pop music but without the diva attitude.

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Reporting from the Northeast Valley, Phoenix, and surrounding communities. State, National and International coverage- from the campus of Scottsdale Community College.
Cher’s ‘Dressed to Kill’ tour triumphs in Phoenix