When Michael Berresse joined the forged of Broadway’s “The Cher Present,” he confronted an uncommon ― and presumably unprecedented ― problem: portraying a dwelling member of the musical’s inventive group within the musical itself.
The Tony-nominated actor and singer performs clothier Bob Mackie within the musical, which charts Cher’s evolution from gangly teen to world famous person by way of 35 of her most beloved songs. Although the real-life Mackie has dressed the likes of Carol Burnett, Diana Ross and Madonna, he’s most related to Cher, with whom he first started collaborating within the 1960s.
To the delight of “The Cher Present” e-book author Rick Elice and director Jason Moore, Mackie signed on to copy a few of his outré designs for the stage manufacturing. The pair determined to acknowledge the designer’s six-decade presence in Cher’s orbit by making him a personality within the musical, too, and tapped Berresse — a Broadway favourite whose credit embody “Chicago,” “Kiss Me, Kate” and “The Mild within the Piazza” — to play him.
“Once I was a child, the phrases ‘Bob Mackie’ had been, to me, a magical incantation, greater than a reputation,” Berresse informed HuffPost. “My affiliation was mild and colour and enjoyable and sexiness and humor — all of the issues that Mackie’s work represents. Subconsciously, I had an attachment to him. It was about my formative growth — about studying the best way to categorical myself, having the ability to entry my humor, my pleasure, my intercourse enchantment.”
Now taking part in at New York’s Neil Simon Theatre, “The Cher Present” is extra of an ensemble present than a star car, with three actresses (Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks and Micaela Diamond) taking part in Cher at completely different factors in her life and profession. As Mackie, Berresse will get two standout, scene-stealing moments. He seems because the ringmaster in a vogue present of iconic Cher seems within the present’s first act, and exhibits off some agile strikes in “The Beat Goes On,” a high-octane, second act dance sequence depicting Cher’s 1980s rise to film stardom.
Berresse’s goal with the position is to supply “a focus” by way of which audiences can categorical their “love, reward and gratitude” to Mackie, who has by no means sought important respect or fame despite his standing as a vogue trailblazer and queer icon.
“The only most necessary facet of Bob that I attempt to seize is his shimmer, his buoyancy,” he mentioned. “However he’s additionally non-performative. He by no means in one million years thought he’d see himself as a personality in a musical and he’s not the form of one that would ask for that highlight. I’m very completely satisfied to be the vessel that helps facilitate that.”
Seems, the sensation is mutual. Mackie has mentioned that he’s “very flattered” by Berresse’s portrayal, noting that the actor “can sing and dance, and he’s good-looking, in order that’s a very good factor.”
Although the Illinois-raised Berresse boasts a pure stage presence, “The Cher Present” marks his first full-time Broadway stint in a decade. In recent times, he’s been primarily centered on movie and tv work, showing in “The Bourne Legacy,” “The Knick” and “The Good Spouse.” He’s turned his consideration behind the scenes, too, directing the musicals “[title of show]” and “Now. Right here. This.” His husband, Jeff Bowen, co-wrote and starred in each exhibits.
Collectively, the couple considers it “a blessing and an amazing luxurious,” quite than a burden, that their inventive passions overlap.
“Regardless of how a lot you like somebody, it’s necessary to do not forget that they’re their very own particular person, and in the event that they’re an artist, their very own artist,” Berresse mentioned. “We’ve plenty of respect for one another as artists. If we needed to feign our assist for one another, it might be an entire different story.”
Trying past “The Cher Present,” Berresse expects he’ll head again to the director’s chair as soon as once more, and has a number of theatrical initiatives — specifically, three new musicals and a play — in numerous phases of growth. However he mentioned taking part in a daring determine like Mackie has influenced him offstage, too, giving him “the chance to precise my very own priorities” reminiscent of discovering future initiatives that may amplify “the methods by which the LGBTQ group is evolving and discovering their voices” within the present political local weather.
“I’m at a spot the place I really feel a substantial amount of stability and confidence,” he mentioned. “My work onstage has been an actual pleasure. I feel Bob had loads to do with that.”