The future of rock 'n' roll is in for a bad case of future shock, if Bruce Springsteen ever catches his song "Fire" as produced by Cher, three back-up singers, a handful of disco dancers, three female impersonators and a 25-piece orchestra.
The Cher extravaganza, which opened a six-night engagement at the Kennedy Center last night, is the ultimate achievement of the television society: tight jeans, sexual ambiguity, flash and flesh compressed into sequins and exactly 60 minutes.
There are film clips of Cher at six months and Cher at 16, Cher and Sonny, Cher and Chastity, Cher and Gregg, Cher and Elijah Blue, Bob Mackie is immortalized in the Dress Designers Nightmare Hall of Fame.
There is a lot of angular dancing of the sort dance historians will someday dismiss as "after Bob Fosse." What there is surprisingly little of is Cher singing. Such as she does.
The 10 or so numbers Cher "stylizes" are as chic as a Las Vegas disco roller rink. One Springsteen, one Bob Seger, one Doobie Brothers, one from "Hair." Her first disco hit, "Take Me Home," makes an appearance; her new single, "Wasn't It Good," does not. Nor does "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," or much of anything from her past.
It would make a perfect segment of a TV variety series if they cut a film clip or two to squeeze in commercials. Even the opening bit, in which a pseudo-Cher in Theda Bara breastplates is routed by the real Cher in harlequin glasses and fake fat, would play well - but they'd have to skip the part where they introduce the guy who plays the bare Cher.
Still, you gotta sorta like Cher. You gotta like Bloomie's mannequins, too. What have they ever done but smile.