Broadway Showstopper Spotlight Series: Micaela Diamond Talks Living Her Dream in The Cher Show, Cherapy, and Her Broadway Debut
The Broadway showstopper is alive and well and living its best life this season, thanks to the 10 incredible performers featured in our upcoming spring photo & interview series. The talented group was photographed by Jenny Anderson at Times Square's Haswell Green's. Next up is The Cher Show's 19-year-old breakout star Micaela Diamond. Taking in her Broadway debut performance at the Neil Simon Theatre, you know you are watching a star being born. Beyond her uncanny ability to produce Cher's signature sound, Micaela is in many ways the heart of the bio-musical. You root for her Babe as she finds love and early success with Sonny Bono; you can't help but beam when she wails on "I Got You Babe"; and your jaw drops when she high-kicks to her face while singing “The Beat Goes On”.
1. You got The Cher Show right after graduating high school. Tell me about your journey, from your audition to making your Broadway debut as Babe.
I played Louise in Gypsy for my last production in high school, and a few agents came to see the show. We started working together and one of my first auditions I went on was Cher. I almost didn't go because I didn't want to do a shitty Cher impression in front of a huge casting office. Then once I got a callback, I started to really want it. Then I had my last callback and it was a work session with our wonderful director, Jason Moore. He threw a bunch of notes and ideas at me to make sure that I could work fast in a Broadway environment. I took Bernie Telsey out of the room after and said, "I need a fast turnaround time because I'm supposed to leave and pack my apartment in two days to go to Carnegie Mellon for musical theater." I got the call 30 minutes later that I had booked it.
2. What’s the dynamic like between the three Chers? Particularly, in that you are Babe, and you've created a performance, but it also has to work with Stephanie J Block and Teal Wicks’ performance. What is that like?
All three Chers interact heavily within the show. We always talk to each other. I'm looking up to my older self, thinking how the hell did she get there, like watching Lady go through a break up with the love of my life in my section of the show. It's really fascinating to watch the dynamic. We call it Cherapy because that's exactly what it feels like in those scenes. It's really helpful that all three of us are genuinely sisters. We check in with each other before the show and love each other with such fierceness in real life as well. That girl group is so cool. I think it's so great to watch women go through all of their ups and downs.
Everybody comes with an expectation to our show, because they know her and she's alive and well, and working. Everybody has a certain memory of who Cher is—some people have the Barbie memory, some people have movie Cher or the singer Cher—and because there are three of us, we're able to give everyone their memory. It feels really good at the end of the night when everyone just screams their heads off at the end of the mega mix.
3. How did you go about building the character who is also someone that is in the collective American memory?
As an actor, it's such a gift to have received hours and hours of footage on her. You can spend hours on YouTube going down the rabbit hole with Cher. It was the first thing I did. I went down this huge rabbit hole and fell madly in love with her. I was on interview number 90, watching her with Oprah, sitting there nonchalantly in the chair with her feet up, and being so honest about herself, her story, her faults, and the mistakes she's made. It's so great to have somebody who's so honest about fame and stardom, and I think we portray that. Yes, there's a lot of sequins; yes, there's a lot of glitz; and there's also a story. There's a real struggle to how this woman became who she is, and I think we tell that—the three of us.
4. Do you remember the first time you felt talented—like what you had was special?
Yes, I did a production of Cabaret and I was playing Sally. I did so much work on the book, and we only had two shows. After the second one, I felt really proud of my work and proud of my scene partner, and all I wanted to do was do it again. That was the moment when I was like, "I think I'm good at this, and I think I can do this for the rest of my life."
5. I want to know all about my favorite moment in The Cher Show, “The Beat Goes On”. How did that moment come about between you and choreographer Christopher Gattelli?
We were trying to figure out what to put in that Act II pick-me-up spot for a long time. At one point, it was a game show. There was a bunch of ideas that were swung around, and three days before we left for Chicago for our out of town tryout, we came up with this number. Rick Elice, our beautiful writer, came up with this massive number for her movie career told by her younger self, me.
I remember going into a fitting because I needed a costume really quickly—because we were going to Chicago—and we just threw on this vintage Mackie that he had in his closet, and it ended up being perfect. Because it was mine, and we were originating it together, Christopher Gattelli and I got to really craft it to my skills and what I love to do. I loved Fosse and I loved kicking, and we got to do exactly what my dream dance number would have been when I was five. I feel like that's my number. I love it. I relive my dream every night stepping into that spotlight as Stephanie hands over the stage to me after she just booked her first play.
6. Watching you onstage, you're very powerful and very confident. Your Cher is a badass. How do you get to that Cher confidence level eight shows a week?
It's very hard, and it doesn't always happen. You're not always going to be at Cher confidence every night, but there are also days in Cher's life when she was not at that confidence. You just have to play with your truth for the night. Stephanie has been such a role model in doing that. She plays to the truth of her night, and I'm doing the same thing. There are absolutely about half the shows a week when I leave wondering if I want to do this for the rest of my life, if I'm really capable of getting there. Then there are the other four shows where I feel like I was living so truthfully in the moment that I'm able to balance it out. You have to savor those moments and write them down, and remember them when you're feeling the doubt. Keep working and learning. That's the biggest part for me. Yes, I may have all of this self-doubt, but if I'm consistently getting an inch better at my work and my art—if I'm consistently reading a new play by a great writer, or reading more Shakespeare, or taking on camera classes.
7. Let’s talk about your first big The Cher Show showstopper, “I Got You Babe”. What is the responsibility that comes with this number? How did you work with your Sonny, Jarrod Spector, to find the moment?
Recreating that historical moment is my favorite part of the show, I think, and to share it with Jarrod is so lovely. You can just feel the entire audience lean in. Everybody is on the same page, re-experiencing this moment of history that made their stroke of lightning happen. It's beautiful to play that journey. We start out really shy on Top of the Pops, wondering if this was stupid to come over to England. Then little by little, each verse we're in a bigger city and now have a bigger hit. Then everybody knows us and we're a household name. To play that in front of everybody's eyes knowing how magical that really was is brilliance. That sequence by Rick Elice is just magical to be in. Everybody suspends their belief for that three and a half minutes. Every time Jarrod starts to sing, everybody just starts clapping because he sounds so much like him. It's such a beautiful piece of theatre magic.
8. Having gone to LaGuardia High, clearly this was the dream. How is it what you imagined it to be, and how starring on Broadway different than what you thought this was going to be?
It's different because it's harder than I ever thought—physically and emotionally. It's very hard on your body. I always say you have to have the self-care of a person who just had a heart attack. The level of self-care is so high when you're on Broadway, and that can feel tiring mentally. That's definitely the thing that's different.
It’s also everything I ever dreamed it could be. The highs are so high. The amount of collaboration every night—looking somebody in the eye and both of you jumping off a cliff together—that's what keeps you going. That's what makes the tired stuff worth it. There are a lot of high moments that make my heart burst during that show, and I hope that I will be able to keep working on art that excites me the way that this show makes my heart feel.
Photographed by Jenny Anderson at Haswell Green's. Assisted by Sydney Goodwin. Hair by Justin Bowen and makeup by Gianna Yanelli. Styling by Kae Manning Studio. Slip dress with tiered mesh overlay in Tiger Lily print by Chiara Boni La Petite Robe; Dempsey platform sandal by Nine West;
fluorite & moonstone pear ring by Bounkit;
mother of pearl, peridot, & lemon quartz ring by Bounkit;
statement earrings by Bounkit.
Jarrod's button down linen shirt in almond by Todd Snyder; boucle long sleeve sweater in green by Todd Snyder; linen trouser with cuff by Samuelsohn; Wooster Street penny loafer in cigar by Allen Edmonds.