With bushy auburn hair, vibrant, gritty, growling vocals, and bring-you-to-church energy, Tina Turner has become an absolute legend among all legends. Her iconic characteristics, especially her swagger and unrelenting energy, are fully expressed in rock-n-roll. Her career started in the band Ike & Tina Turner Revue as the lead singer. By the mid-80s, her solo career made history, carrying out high-spirited acts as a middle-aged Black American female entertainer. She had risen to the top despite significant personal and professional challenges. In her later years, she became an influential artist to the younger generation, ensuring her high-profile status long into the twenty-first century.
Treasured and celebrated, a jukebox musical was made for the legend entitled Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. As someone in the limelight with an image catering to the public eye, Tina Turner’s real, unfiltered story took time to be told. In this musical, the powerful singer bares her untold tale of a lady who dared to challenge racial, gender, and age stereotypes. This is a story of a person that stood up for her life. Coming to the Pantages Theatre this summer, the musical will have you swept to over-the-top performances and a heartfelt story. Be ready to get rollin’!
“A whirlwind performance.” – The Guardian
“It’s so resounding joyous you don’t care.” – Echoes
“Slickly choreographed, beautifully designed and roof-raisingly well-sung.” — The Daily telegraph
A young and up-and-coming producer by the name of Tali Pelman began the process of creating the musical by convincing Tina Turner to tell her story through a biopic musical. At first, Tina was steadfast in declining for her story to be told again, this time through a musical. This is due to the fact that most of the time in her career, she spent explaining herself and moving forward from her challenging past with her former husband (Ike, who was Tina’s first musical partner and abuser). But her decision changed when the producer vowed that it would be a reclamation of her story this time. With the Queen of rock-n-roll’s go signal, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins joined the team and worked on the first draft of the musical. Later on, the writers were joined by Katori Hall, which religiously followed what Tina wanted for her story to be told. This was made more accessible because the legendary musician herself was hands-on with creating the musical, even disrupting her retirement. Director Phyllida Lloyd, set and costume designer Mark Thompson, choreographer Anthony van Laast, and musical supervisor Nicholas Skilbeck would later become part of the creative team.
Taking up the huge responsibility of making the Tina Turner story right, Katori decided to begin the story on Tina’s childhood as Anna Mae Bullock, from Nutbush, Tennessee. An energetic performer in their church, Anna has always dreamed of becoming an entertainer. She always had the desire to transcend her oppressive environment, which she did when she met the already prominent artist, Ike Turner, credited as the person who began the rock n’ roll era with the song “Rocket 88.” This is where the story reached a sensitive part, which Katori worked on with responsibility. The first act ends with Tina’s freedom from the clutches of her husband. The second act continues Tina’s hardship after her divorce, performing in Las Vegas and her strong comeback to the limelight with a renewed desire and reinvented music style and fashion. The show ends with Tina about to perform for a 180,000 audience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“You come to “Tina” for the songs.” – New York Post
One of the struggles of the development of the musical was choosing the right songs to be part of the musical. In an interview with Pelman, Tina Turner admitted that “the greatest surprise was how her songs told the story of her life. There are so many pieces that could capture a moment.” With the best of the best in mind, the creative team settled on 22 songs, some of which changed from West End to Broadway. Highlight songs of the musical include “Nutbush City Limits,” “A Fool in Love,” “River Deep Mountain High,” “Proud Mary,” “Private Dancer,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” “What’s Love Got to Do with It?,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” and “The Best.”
In 2018, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical opened on West End at the Aldwych Theatre. The original production ran until September 23 of the same year. Before the musical moved to Broadway, a production at the Stage Operettenhaus in Hamburg, Germany, opened. In 2019, the Broadway production finally arrived. It ran at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and stayed there until August 2022 after more than 400 performances. Other productions of the musical have also run recently in different countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Australia. A North American tour will also be commencing soon that will visit 40 cities.
In the original West End production, the musical earned multiple nominations from many award-giving bodies, including awards from the
Evening Standard Theatre Award, Stage Debut Award, Black British Theatre Award, WhatsOnStage Award, and of course, the Laurence Olivier Award. It won the Olivier Award for “Best Actor in a Musical” for Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s role as Ike Turner.
On the other hand, the Broadway production also received many nominations. For the Tony Awards, it secured 12 nominations and won Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Adrienne Warren’s role as Tina Turner. On the Drama Desk Awards, it bagged two wins out of four nominations.
In its tour, the Tina Turner experience is back in the heart of the entertainment industry: Hollywood! Catch Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Pantages Theatre on June 1 to July 9. With a fiery cast that includes Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva, both assuming the role of Tina, Garrett Turner as Ike Turner, Roz White as Zelma Bullock, Ann Nesby as Gran Georgeanna, and Lael Van Keuren as Rhonda, your delight for the musical will surely keep on rolling! Tickets are now on sale, and you can reserve yours here by hitting the “Get Tickets” link.