Meet Barnsley West End and Broadway performer currently on tour with The Cher Show
As the production tours the UK, Barnsley performer Danielle Steers is playing the role of Lady, one of three versions of Cher’s character, alongside Star and Babe. “Playing Cher in general is pretty terrifying, just because she’s still very much in the public eye,” the 31-year-old says. “But getting to do iconic 70s Cher with the long straight hair and singing songs from that era is just so much fun. Lady, for me, is when she’s sort of starting to find her voice and become stronger as a woman because she was painfully shy as a child. It’s that turning point in her life where she starts to stand up for herself and make her voice heard.”
Written by Tony Award-winning Rick Elice, The Cher Show made its debut on Broadway in 2018. Its UK and Ireland Tour, which began in April, marked the production’s European Premiere. Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Philips is responsible for its direction, with choreography by two-time Strictly champion Oti Mabuse. "It was nice to have a powerful group of women to be working with because that is what Cher stands for,” Danielle reflects. “Arlene is incredible. I have always wanted to work with her. She’s a really wonderful human...The bits I did with Oti, she was so fun, always singing Cher songs and making us laugh. It was a dream team really.”
The tour is continuing until April next year, with a run of dates in York this week. It will be the fourth time Danielle has returned to her home region with the show, following performances in Hull, Bradford and Sheffield earlier this year. A bus load of people she knew booked to see her in South Yorkshire, many of whom hadn’t watched her on stage since she was a girl. “I’ve never done a UK tour before, all my shows pretty much have been in London and some people haven’t been able to get to them so it’s been really nice for them to be able to come and see me in this show,” she says.
Danielle’s mum was behind that Sheffield bus-load of fans. Her parents were not singers, but they supported her through a childhood of am-dram, singing competitions and many-a-show at Barnsley’s Take 2 Performing Arts Academy. “I remember singing [in my room one night] and my mum telling me to turn the radio off...I said it’s not on, it’s me singing and she was like oh you’re very good but get to bed,” Danielle laughs. "I think that’s probably the first moment I realised I could sing. But I don’t remember a specific moment of me thinking that’s what I want to do, I have to be on stage. It’s just always been in me. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
After leaving high school, Danielle studied at SLP College for Performing Arts in Leeds and from there, it was audition after audition until she secured her first job in the industry and left Yorkshire for London. She was close to giving up – “it never gets any easier, giving your everything in an audition for someone to say no thank you,” she says – but almost a year to the day since her graduation, she was offered a part in Legally Blonde on the West End in 2011. It was her first big musical, the show she credits with the start of her career. “My mum would drop everything to run me down to London to do an audition,” Danielle recalls. “I was very lucky that I had that and I’m really grateful to my mum.”
“I think I always knew I wanted to sing and perform,” she adds. “I wanted to be on the West End but I didn’t really know how to get there. I remember my careers adviser at high school saying what do you want to do? And I said I wanted to be on the West End...I did it. But it’s been difficult.”
Danielle released her debut album, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, in 2021 and now has an impressive list of theatre credits to her name, including roles in the original cast of Bat Out of Hell: The Musical and in the original London cast of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical. The former saw her perform in Manchester, London, Toronto and New York.
“Going to perform Bat Out of Hell in Broadway was one of the highlights of my career,” Danielle enthuses. “It was a real honour to go.” Another standout was performing in front of her idol Dame Shirley Bassey, when the singer watched Beautiful. “Everybody knew I loved her and my company manager said there’s someone here, I’m not going to tell you who is here but don’t be [rubbish],” Danielle laughs. “In the interval I realised who was sitting in the audience. I was like oh my god I can’t believe Shirley Bassey is watching me.”
For all the bucket-list moments – and there’s plenty more that she’s keen to tick off, from landing roles in Hamilton and Wicked to performing at the Royal Albert Hall, there’s been times when Danielle admits she has been close to throwing in the towel. The Covid pandemic was particularly tough when the theatre industry ground to a halt. She talks of people leaving their careers and of the mental health struggles faced by many without their usual creative output.
Still, she was grateful to be performing in a show – Six the Musical – at the time the first lockdown begam as it meant she had a job to go back to. “A lot of people didn’t have that and are still struggling now to come through the other side,” she says. “There have been times when I’ve thought I don’t think I want to do this anymore. I think I’ve hung onto the fact that I do love what I do. As much as it’s hard, the bottom line is I love it. When I go out there and see the audience sat there looking and beaming...I was that kid once sat there watching shows all wide-eyed and that’s why I continue to do what I do. I do love it.”
The Cher Show is at York Grand Opera House, November 15 to 19. Visit cheronstage.com