Virginia actress comes home to Fairfax Co. for ‘Cher’ musical tour at Capital One Hall

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Cher Show' at Capital One Hall (Part 1)
Catherine Ariale as Lady, Morgan Scott as Star, Ella Perez as Babe, and the cast of "The Cher Chow." (Meredith Mashburn Photography)

Actress Catherine Ariale graduated from West Springfield High School in Northern Virginia back in 2015.

Now, she’s excited to come home to Fairfax County to headline “The Cher Show” at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia, for a run of five shows this weekend on Friday, Feb. 16, Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18.

“I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for months, ever since I found out I got this role and we were coming so close to [my] hometown,” Ariale told WTOP. “I can’t wait to show everyone who hasn’t seen me perform in so long. … Lots of family, friends, people in the theater program at West Springfield, my old teacher Bernie DeLeo is coming, as well as my old chorus teacher Dustin Brandt. … They had a huge part in kick-starting my career.”

She’ll never forget meeting DeLeo when she was a sophomore in high school still finding her way.

“One day after school, I ended up walking past the arts hallway where he had a bulletin board of all the auditions,” Ariale said. “I was just there by myself, glancing around looking at auditions for a play that was coming up and he happened to walk by like, ‘Hey, who are you? Are you interested in auditioning?’ … He convinced me right then and there. … One day after rehearsal he was like, ‘What do you want to do for college? … You should be doing this.'”

Her answer was to study theater at Pace University in Manhattan, allowing her to see Broadway shows in person.

“That was the reason that really drew me to Pace,” Ariale said. “I always loved New York City, I always knew I wanted to live there from an early age honestly, just going to see shows with my family growing up on vacations. A lot of [Pace] faculty are in the business … and the insight that you get from going to a school like that is unmatched. There was no scary post-grad moving to the city … I had been there for four years already.”

Now, she brings her Big Apple experience back home for the national tour of “The Cher Show,” which premiered on Broadway in 2018. Written by Rick Elice, the show casts three lead actresses to portray musical icon Cher at different stages of her career, first nicknamed “Babe” in the 1950s and ’60s (played by Ella Perez), then nicknamed “Lady” in the 1970s (played by Ariale) and finally nicknamed “Star” in the 1980s and ’90s (played by Morgan Scott).

“It starts out with Babe, you see Cher in her early teen years when she first meets Sonny, they have this lovely spark moment where there’s just crazy chemistry between the two of them,” Ariale said. “Lady steps in when Babe is a little too shy in front of a crowd in Vegas. I literally tap her on the shoulder like, ‘Get out of the way, it’s my turn.’ … Then you see Star come in, the oldest Cher, she is the pop-glam icon that we see today.”

Along the way, you’ll hear all of your favorite Cher tunes for a jukebox musical.

“We sing ‘Song for the Lonely’ at the end of Act 1, which is by far my favorite moment,” Ariale said. “The opening is ‘If I Could Turn Back Time,’ just full concert mode. … ‘I Got You Babe’ has to be the No. 1 recognized. … One I didn’t know is a mashup of ‘When the Money’s Gone’ and ‘All or Nothing.’ … You’ve got to have ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.’ … ‘The Beat Goes On’ was a song I did not know was Cher’s. … ‘Believe’ is in our megamix at the very end.”

Of course, you can’t have a Cher show without the Tony-winning costumes by Bob Mackie.

“There’s some iconic costumes in there that are just really brilliant and really fun to wear,” Ariale said. “I forget how many there are, I know it’s in the hundreds. I have around 23 costume changes I think. There’s a lot of beads, there’s a lot of sparkles. … Some of the iconic Oscar costumes that Cher wore, the one with the mohawk. … She wanted to be big and bold with her fashion and that’s why Bob Mackie was so perfect for her.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Cher Show' at Capital One Hall (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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