TINA – The Tina Turner Musical Review

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TINA – The Tina Turner Musical is a high-energy production that captures the essence of the legendary singer’s tumultuous life.

It originally opened on Broadway on November 7, 2019, and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

If you’ve read I, Tina: My Life Story or watched the film adaptation What’s Love Got to Do with It, you have a general idea of the storyline – from Turner’s modest beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee to her abusive marriage to Ike Turner and eventual superstardom as a solo artist.

Set to the pulse-pounding soundtrack of Turner’s most beloved hits, the musical will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride.

The cast is led by Ari Groover (TINA Broadway, Head Over Heels, Holler If Ya Hear Me, Little Shop of Horrors) and Parris Lewis (Hairspray) who evenly share the role of Tina Turner.

Parris Lewis (left) and Ari Groover (right) as Tina Turner. Photos by Matthew Murphy.

Also starring are Roderick Lawrence as Ike Turner, Roz White as Zelma Bullock (Turner’s estranged mother), Wydetta Carter as Gran Georgeanna (Turner’s grandmother), and Sarah Bockel as Rhonda (Turner’s manager). Young Turner was played fantastically by Brianna Cameron.

Brianna Cameron as Young Tina Turner. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The ensemble includes Daelyanna Kelly Benson, Antonio Beverly, Ben Bogen, Karen Burthwright, Aliyah Caldwell, Max Falls, Zachary Freier-Harrison, Reyna Guerra, Gordia Hayes, Takia Hopson, Geoffrey Kidwell, Symphony King, Gigi Lewis, Natalia Nappo, Wildlin Pierrevil, Gerard M. Williams, Nia Nelson-Williams, Terance Reddick, Shari Washington Rhone, Eric Siegle, Kristopher Stanley Ward, Christine Suddeth, and Jeff Sullivan.

The play runs about 2-½ hours with a 15-minute intermission.

On the night I attended, Lewis played the lead role, and she was sensational as Turner. Lewis’s portrayal was fierce yet vulnerable, showcasing Turner’s indomitable spirit in the face of adversity.

Her powerful voice mimicked Turner’s distinctive vocals and she precisely nailed the dance moves.

While the first act focused on Turner’s early struggles, the second act allowed the music and Lewis’ luminous performance to take center stage.

I liked how playwright Katori Hall used Turner’s music to move the story forward.

It made me listen to the lyrics differently and gain additional appreciation for the songs.

The Tina Turner Musical
Parris Lewis as Tina Turner. Photo by Matthew Murphy

My favorite performance was I Can’t Stand the Rain. It felt as if I were inside of Turner’s head experiencing all of the grief, doubt, heartbreak, and trepidation she was feeling. It was a deeply emotional moment for me.

One of the most interesting parts of the show was how her breakout hit, What’s Love Got to Do With It came to be.

Turner initially hated the song because it sounded like cheesy synth-pop. But after some convincing from her manager, she decided to record the song.

Her distinctive vocals and emotional gravitas transformed What’s Love Got to Do with It into a global phenomenon.

Although Turner’s story is filled with violent interactions, I appreciated Roz White’s performance because she brought much-needed comic relief to the musical.

The Tina Turner Musical
Roderick Lawrence as Ike Turner and Roz White as Zelma Bullock. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The play also touched on Turner’s spiritual evolution from Christianity to Buddhism.

The show closed with rousing performances of Nutbush City Limits and Proud Mary that had the audience dancing in the aisles.

Joyous, heartbreaking, and triumphant, TINA – The Tina Turner Musical is a celebration of the human spirit and a loving tribute to the Queen of Rock and Roll.

If you can’t see the musical in person, you still enjoy the music. TINA – The Tina Turner Musical: Original Cast Recording is available worldwide on CD, both online and in stores. The CD features a 20-page booklet, which includes liner notes, synopsis, and production and studio photography.

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