In 'The Cher Show,' the beads go on

The Broadway tour's costume coordinator explains what it takes to keep the award-winning outfits sparkling.

By Gino Campodónico

The Cher Show, Broadway's spectacular tribute to the iconic pop star, is set to make its South Florida debut January 2-7 at the Arsht Center. Audiences can anticipate a dazzling experience as they journey through Cher's remarkable career, from her Sonny and Cher days to her solo superstardom. The production promises to captivate with its vibrant performances, and is further elevated by the inclusion of the legendary Bob Mackie costumes, which not only won a Tony Award but also play a starring role in bringing Cher's glamorous fashion legacy to life onstage. We interviewed the tour’s costume coordinator, Janine Loesch, to learn more about the famed looks.

How many costumes are used in the show? And what eras of Cher's performing life do they span?

There are approximately 3,000 costume pieces on the road with the show, 2,000 pieces are in a show at a given time, 300 additional accessories and over 200 pairs of shoes. The show mostly takes place in the early 1960s (Cher's teenage years) and early 2000s for her Farewell Tour (2003). However, the storyline of the show does start when she is a little girl learning about theater and performance with her parents at the age of 6.

Are any original Bob Mackie costumes used in the show?

The costumes are all original designs by Bob Mackie. He won the Tony Award for Best Costumes for the show. Many are re-creations of some of Cher's most iconic outfits, and there are some costumes created specifically for the show, as well. Each garment has been selected by Bob Mackie and his team for the Broadway stage. The fabrication of garments were very intentional based on the movement and choreography that happens when worn.

Morgan Scott plays Star in "The Cher Show." Photo courtesy Meredith Mashburn Photography.

(Morgan Scott plays Star in "The Cher Show." Photo courtesy Meredith Mashburn Photography.)

What kind of maintenance do the costumes require?

Each item has to be cleaned after wearing and then things such as beaded items may need to be re-beaded. Costumes may need to be re-fit if actors change over the course of a long run, and then there is maintenance that happens if a costume gets wear and tear just like someone's personal clothes. If it gets stuck in a set or the item just wears over time, stitchers will make the proper adjustments to keep the item looking its best. The beaded looks all get folded in towels and placed in buckets for safekeeping instead of getting hung with the rest of the clothing for the show.

What does it take to make the costume changes happen?

A great team and communication. Most importantly, communication between the involved parties, the actor and dresser for sure, and then sometimes this also includes a sound person, a props person and a wigs/makeup person. Each change that is not done by an actor on their own, involves what we call quick change choreography so that the change happens the same way each time. This allows everyone involved to be aware of what's going on, be able to access the situation if something goes wrong and make the proper edits to the change so the actor goes onstage as planned and the audience is none the wiser that there was a costume change issue backstage.

Do you have any interesting "by the numbers" statistics — how many sequins, how many headpieces, how many wigs (which I know is not a costume but thought you might know), how many pairs of heels?

I do not know for sure but with some simple math there must be over 100,000 rhinestones and sequins that were applied to these costumes, over 100 headpieces, over 60 wigs in the show and over 100 pairs of heels, specifically.

Photo by Meredith Mashburn Photography

(Photo courtesy Meredith Mashburn Photography.)

What is it like for you as a costumer to see these iconic costumes come to life again onstage?

Having worked in professional theater for more than 15 years, I must say this is one of my favorite costume shows to work on, and I'm so happy for a second opportunity to work on the show, watching a new iteration come to life. I was so excited to work with this show again. And being able to see these garments up close and hold them in your hands, to then seeing them onstage is like knowing a magician's trick to making magic happen.

If you could borrow one of the costumes for an evening, which one would it be?

I would have to borrow Star's bow costume. Without giving too much away, the dress is stunning and everyone’s jaw drops in awe when they see it up close. The garment is made of nude mesh with ostrich feathers along the bottom portion from the knee down. Then, there are silver and turquoise sequins and rhinestones perfectly placed throughout the entire garment to cover everything.

See The Cher Show.