Sunderland-born West End star Debbie Kurup heading home to appear in The Cher Show at the Empire

A Sunderland-born West End star is turning back time to head home in The Cher Show.
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Debbie Kurup is one of three actors who are starring as global superstar Cher in an all-new UK production which celebrates the music and life of the iconic singer.

Sunderland is one of the first dates on the tour and it will be a special homecoming for Debbie who grew up in Hendon and attended Hudson Road Primary School.

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She moved to London with her family when she was five, before making her name in musical theatre, but still has lots of family members in the the city who are looking forward to seeing her on their home stage, when The Cher Show heads to the Empire at the end of April.

THE CHER SHOW - LtoR Millie O'Connell, Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers, credit Matt CrockettTHE CHER SHOW - LtoR Millie O'Connell, Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers, credit Matt Crockett
THE CHER SHOW - LtoR Millie O'Connell, Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers, credit Matt Crockett

"Usually my family have to travel to London to see my shows, so it’s great for them to be able to see me at home. I’m really looking forward to being back on the Empire stage, it’s a great space, and to see the response from the audiences,” said Debbie.

As well as featuring 35 of Cher’s biggest hits, such as If I Could Turn Back Time, I Got You Babe, Strong Enough, The Shoop Shoop Song and Believe, the musical, with direction by Arlene Phillips and choreography by Oti Mabuse, looks at the life of one of music’s most-enduring stars.

Each of the three actors represents a period of Cher’s life with Debbie as Star, Danielle Steers as Lady and Millie O’Connell as Babe.

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"It really is a rollercoaster ride through Cher’s life story,” explained Debbie. “The book by Rick Elice deals with the story in the most truthful and respectful way, with all these iconic songs woven and synergised through the text. It really takes you on a journey.

Sunderland-born Debbie Kurup as CherSunderland-born Debbie Kurup as Cher
Sunderland-born Debbie Kurup as Cher

"We think of Cher as this global icon, because she’s been around forever. But she’s had a tough life and came from nothing. My character, Star, is the eldest and wisest Cher and she calls upon the two younger versions to tell her story from the ‘60s through the decades to the present day.”

Cher is the latest strong female role played by Debbie, 42, whose long career has included playing Nikki Marron in The Bodyguard, for which she received two Olivier Award nominations. She’s also appeared in West End productions of Chicago, Tonight’s the Night, Rent, Fame, West Side Story, Sister Act and more.

Speaking about stepping into Cher’s shoes, she said: “From the day I got the show I immersed myself in her YouTube videos, documentaries and books, soaking up her mannerisms, physicality, tone of voice and unique sound.

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"But we are very aware that this isn’t a tribute act, we aren’t lookalikes or soundalikes. This is a theatrical representation of Cher and you need actors to do that.”

:: The Cher Show is at Sunderland Empire from Tuesday, April 26 - Saturday April, 30 2022. Tickets priced from £13 are available from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 7615 or online at

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