Flashback to the 80s – Tina the Musical
An invitation to see TINA the Musical took me back to 80s when legendary rock and singer Tina Turner launched a major comeback and hit the British music scene with a bang with much-loved hits like Let’s Stay Together, Private Dancer and What’s Love Got to Do With It.
Tina Turner one is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, she has won 11 Grammy Awards and her live shows have been seen by millions, with more concert tickets sold than any other solo performer in music history. TINA brings her extraordinary story and her rise to fame to the London’s West End, written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd.
Born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 and raised by her grandmother in Nutbush, Tennessee, whilst her parents worked away in Knoxville. Anna Mae craved stardom from an early age and took part in church talent shows, where her flair was already beginning to shine through. She moved to St. Louis aged 16 and was discovered by Ike, the leader of the R&B band the Kings of Rhythm. His abusive tendencies were apparent from the outset but Tina (renamed by Ike) put her concerns aside in pursuit of her career.
Within a few years, her heart rendering vocals had led her on a successful path and she was catapulted centre stage from her role as Ike’s backup singer to become the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Their famous hits include Nutbush City Limits and River Deep- Mountain High.
She went on to marry Ike and have two sons, but after years of suffering horrific domestic violence at his hands, she bravely left empty handed and reinvented her career, going on to defy the bounds of her age, gender and race and become an iconic female rock star.
This production rocks it! It not only does it tell a rollickingly good story but it takes you to the realms of a stadium rock concert with its slick composition, stunning lighting design (Bruno Poet), vivid projections (Jeff Sugg), magnificent costumes (Mark Thompson) and performances to match.
Broadway star Adrienne Warren’s performance as Tina is quite extraordinary, her unlimited energy, her stunning voice and her ability to embody Tina with such candour and vitality is quite staggering. How she manages to keep up this level of performance night after night is truly remarkable.
Speaking at the launch of the musical, talking about Tina, Warren said: “She is strength, power and grace personified, and a motivation, an inspiration to all women, but especially women of colour. “She’s the first time that I ever realised that I could grow up from the south, because I’m also from the south, and have dreams that would take me all over the world. I wouldn’t have become a performer if it wasn’t for Tina Turner. Warren added: It’s inspiring because it just shows all of us that no matter what obstacle comes your way, whether it’s your family not supporting you, whether it’s bullying, whether it’s domestic violence, don’t ever let that stop you from achieving what you want to do in your life.”
Kiobna Holbrook-Smith gives a fabulous, spot-on portrayal as Ike, who was driven by his musical talent but is oblivious to the pain he causes others and has an inherent inability to take responsibility for his abusive behaviour. He worked the audience brilliantly, even in his curtain call, where he was both booed and cheered in equal amounts.
This wonderful rambunctious show had the audience eating out of their hands, there was a standing ovation on the night of my visit which had everyone clapping and joining in with the final numbers, and for a moment it was easy to feel as if you were in at a rock concert with Tina at the helm.