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Scranton man hits hometown stage in national production of "The Cher Show"

Lorenzo Pugliese (right) plays Sonny Bono in the National Tour of the Cher Show.
Meredith Mashburn
Lorenzo Pugliese (right) plays Sonny Bono in the national tour of "The Cher Show."

"The Cher Show" performed at the Scranton Cultural for four sold out audiences.

Scranton's own Lorenzo Pugliese plays Cher's love interest, Sonny Bono.

"As a 5'5 Italian man himself, he finds it fairly easy to play one on stage," the show's program states.

The 26-year-old is touring the country with the production through June. He conveys the character with a bright smile and a nasal voice.

“He has a lot of different emotional colors that you get to play," Pugliese said of Sonny's character. "He starts out very innocent and funny and adorable, but he can get pretty angry and a little controlling even, so there’s a nice variety of things to play there.”

The actor was a regular on the stage at Scranton High School just ten years ago. He studied musical theater at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and soon after landed the role of Spongebob Squarepants in a U.S. and Canada tour of "The Spongebob Musical."

Pugliese was surrounded by his family and fellow cast mates when Mayor Paige Cognetti gave him a proclamation for his achievements.

“To be embraced this way in the community, it’s all overwhelmingly heartwarming," Pugliese said.

Fittingly, Sonny Bono was the mayor of Palms Springs from 1988 to 1992.

Lorenzo Pugliese accepted a proclamation from Mayor Paige Cognetti with support from his cast mates.
Haley O'Brien
Lorenzo Pugliese accepted a proclamation from Mayor Paige Cognetti with support from his cast mates.

Broadway Theatre League of NEPA and NAC Entertainment presented the performances during the first weekend of March.

"When somebody is on tour and they have the opportunity to come home, it's a big deal," Tom Combs from NAC Entertainment said. "Not only to make them feel welcomed, but also to let them show off their city.

Frank Blasi, the executive director of Broadway Theater League of NEPA, can remember one other time that he booked a show that included a Scranton-native in the cast.

"It's always fun to have that," he said. "And you can show kids locally that you can make it on stage even if you come from Scranton."

"The Cher Show" tour runs through June. Pugliese is hoping for another year.

Otherwise, he just released his debut single under the artist name Valerian. It’s called "SAved."

“I remember being at Robert Morris Elementary School and like first grade, walking around singing songs I was writing to myself,” he said. “All these years later it makes sense to me. It’s something that’s always been inside me. And now that I have so many songs built up and I have a job that can fund it, I’m able to record in a studio and produce it so I’m really really excited to share it with the world.”

Pugliese likes to experiment with several music styles include variety in his songs, he said. The song is available on all streaming platforms.

Haley joined the WVIA news team in 2023 as a reporter and host. She grew up in Scranton and studied Broadcast Journalism at Marywood University. Haley has experience reporting in Northeast Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. She enjoys reporting on Pennsylvania history and culture, and video storytelling.

You can email Haley at haleyobrien@wvia.org