With The Cher Show heading off on tour around the UK, we look at other pop legends that deserve a musical theatre moment...
This spring, The Cher Show lands in the UK, bringing the story of Cher’s meteoric rise to nineteen different theatres and dividing the titular role between three different actresses, who walk us through each stage of Cher’s stardom. Shows such as Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and the ever-popular Mamma Mia have already proved that the public has an appetite for jukebox musicals, and The Cher Show is set to join their ranks. The biographical musical shows no signs of vanishing any time soon, which got us wondering – who’s next?
Here are ten pop divas that we think would make for fabulous theatre.
An older Céline stands alone on a dark stage, under a single spotlight, and croons the opening to ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’… Cue double revolving stage à la Hamilton as the clock rewinds. We’ll be testing the limits of how many ballads one can feasibly pack into a two and a half/possibly three hour production, but you can bet that by the time the heroine is finished belting out ‘My Heart Will Go On’, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
When it comes to candidates for jukebox musicals, it’s all about range – not a problem for a woman with 25 studio albums to her name. From her days in the Supremes to the highs and lows of her solo career, the difficulty of putting Ross’s story on stage would be in deciding what to leave out. One thing is for certain: ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ would be a showstopper. Possible titles include, Supreme: The Diana Ross Show and Diana Ross: Come See (A Musical) About Me.
Back To Black is a jukebox musical waiting to happen. Winehouse’s storytelling is so vivid that she practically does any West End book writer’s work for them – see Rehab for reference – and her big hair and winged eyeliner would make for a fantastic poster. This would be an ultimately tragic but beautiful show, and casting would have their work cut out for them trying to find someone to recreate that voice.
My younger self would have begged, borrowed and committed minor acts of fraud to see an Avril Lavigne musical. With a ‘Sk8er Boi’ movie apparently in the works it seems only fitting that the Avril Lavigne empire expands to the stage, and I think after hip-hop, Motown and rock-opera the West End is ready for some pop punk. There’s more range here than you might imagine – Avril’s got a good few divorce-inspired heartbreakers – and ‘I’m With You’ is crying out for a full orchestra and a smoke machine.
It would be surrealist, it would be conceptual, and it would make heavy use of morph suits and interpretive dance. We would begin in the hospital room, Gaga entering the world to ‘Born This Way’ and continue to interpret every song far too literally to the point of ridiculousness. Underground poker rings, rotary phones and Judas would all make appearances. Bows would take place to ‘Applause’, naturally.
It’s all about the eras here. We would move through them in a dream sequence manner with little dialogue, letting the lyrics do most of the work and trusting the rest to the visuals. A dystopian hellscape for Reputation, glittering palaces for Lover, magical forests for Folklore… The set and costume budget would need to be five times that of Wicked, but it would be worth it. Swift would fall from grace and rise again to thunderous applause. There would be live cats..
Now that the last couple of years has seen a renewed interest in Jacket Jackson’s story, it seems the perfect time to give the pop superstar the production she deserves. From her childhood in the Jackson household, to her reign as every American girl’s role model, to her blacklisting after the Superbowl controversy, this could be a theatrical blockbuster. Also, someone has to claim ‘Rhythm Nation’ back from Kay Cannon’s Cinderella.
It’s only a matter of time before the Queen of Pop gets her own musical – her persona is so intrinsically linked already to theatricality and performance. You could probably base an individual show around each of her fourteen albums, but the Olivier-winning production would cherry-pick the best of all of them. Madonna is possibly not a family show, simply because it would be crime to leave out the Erotica album. ‘Like A Virgin’ and ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ would naturally be sequenced one after the other, for the drama.
She’s held the attention of the world fast this year as the #FreeBritney saga reached its triumphant conclusion. Docuseries after docuseries related the upsetting details of her conservatorship, and Spears herself has been open and forthright on social media, rewriting a story that was so cruelly twisted years ago. Written with an understanding of the star that would not have been possible even a couple of years ago, Britney The Musical would be powerful, emotional and impeccably choreographed – and we have a feeling that Britney herself would love it. Alternative title: It’s Britney The Musical, Bi***.
Lemonade: The Musical would pull from Beyoncé’s entire catalogue (including her Destiny’s Child days, specifically for ‘Bills’), but 2016’s Lemonade would be the main inspirational force behind this show. Our heroine would pick up the pieces of a broken marriage and assess whether or not it was possible to put it back together in an intimate two-hour reflection on the limits of love. ‘Hold Up’ and ‘Sorry’ would feature alongside classics such as ‘Irreplaceable’, ‘If I Were A Boy’, and (of course) ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’. One for date night, but only if you’re feeling brave.