Meet the Tony Winners: Stephanie J. Block of ‘The Cher Show’

Stephanie J. Block won her first Tony Award for playing Cher in The Cher Show on Broadway. The show chronicles six decades of Cher’s extraordinary life and career. It’s an uplifting story of enduring passion and fierce commitment despite when all odds were against her. Plus, The Cher Show is chock full of Cher’s hit songs and a whole bunch of eye-popping, glittering Bob Mackie costumes. Prior to The Cher Show, Block had been nominated for two Tony Awards. Her other theater credits includes Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Anything Goes, 9 to 5: The Musical, The Pirate Queen, Wicked and playing Liza Minnelli in her Broadway debut in The Boy From Oz.

Did you get a text message from Cher before the Tony Awards?
Stephanie J. Block: She’s not Cher on my phone, as you can imagine. Because if you lose your phone, that is information that shouldn’t get out. But every time my phone goes “ding, ding, ding, ding,” when I get seven or eight dings, I pretty much know it’s going to be sweet Cher on the other side. So she was wishing love. She’s really proud of the show. She said that it is bringing so much joy in a time where some of us have heavy hearts. She was delicious in the sense that she said, “Good luck tonight. I mean tomorrow. I mean tonight, no, I mean Sunday. I know, Sunday. I love you doll, Sunday.” And then the kiss emoji. It’s all very Cher. She is so authentically herself, whether it’s an email or text message or in person. She translates the same, and it’s just so beautifully authentic.

Where you always a Cher fan?
SJB: I was a fan of her movies before I was a fan of her music. My parents watched Sonny and Cher, so I can vaguely remember what that meant to our household. But to me, I’ll be honest, it was the Barbie. It was seeing this sleek, long, dark-haired figure in a Barbie box in a gorgeous Bob Mackie gown. And I thought, “Oh, you know what? I feel I resemble her much more than the other Barbies.” And that’s what really drew my attention first. Then the movies. Then the music and now, as odd as it sounds, she is a friend.

When you gave your Tony speech, you talked about your journal entry when you were 12 or 13. What would that child say about you growing up and playing Cher?
SJB: I think she would probably say, “absolutely not.” Growing up in southern California, my life and the beginning part of my career were all with the light roles…doing regional theater. That is one of the reasons I moved to New York. And the idea of bringing someone like Cher to life certainly wasn’t on my radar in any way, shape or form. Making my debut as Liza Minnelli wasn’t on the radar in any way, shape or form. I went from playing Liza 15 years ago to then saying “yes” again to playing another icon. I may be a masochist, but here I am. So I think it was a good decision.

How does it feel to have won a Tony Award?
SJB: Well, when I go to my therapist, we will talk about that. It’s really amazing. You don’t work for the award. But it is always that hope, that wish, a dream, that goal. I mean that little paper from my journal was from 1984. So to stand up there, 30 some years later, and to know that actually happened, really brings me to my knees. There were so many times I thought, “New York is just too much. It’s all too much.” I quit this business at least two, three times a year. And yet I still stand here, because of the people who love me. I know it all takes some endurance and tenacity. Not to bring it back to Cher, but that was one of the reasons why I said “yes” to playing her. It was her tenacity, resilience and never giving up, no matter whatever life threw at her. That has brought me here. I’m so grateful.

By Jeryl Brunner

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