The Tina Turner Musical
book by Katori Hall
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical is a jukebox musical featuring the music of Tina Turner, and depicting her life from her youth in Nutbush, Tennessee, through her tumultuous relationship with Ike Turner, and comeback as a rock ‘n roll star in her 40s. The musical has a book by Katori Hall, Victoria Chau and Kees Prins, and is directed by Phyllida Lloyd. The West End production began preview performances at Aldwych Theatre on March 21, 2018, and opened on April 17, 2018. The show’s original actors include Adrienne Warren as Tina and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Ike. Tina opening on Broadway Nov 7 2019 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre previews began October 12 2019 starring Adrienne Warren as Tina and Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Tina Alternate.
On December 16, 2016 a workshop presentation was held with Tina Turner in attendance, announcing that a biographical musical about Tina’s life had been in development by Stage Entertainment for over a year. The creative team of the musical consists of Katori Hall, with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins as writers of the book, Phyllida Lloyd as the director, Mark Thompson as set and costume designer, Anthony van Laast as choreographer and Nicholas Skilbeck as musical supervisor. Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins wrote the early draft of the book, with Katori Hall taking over partway through development.
Adrienne Warren and Tina Turner
The show began previews on March 21, 2018 at the Aldwych Theatre, officially opened on 17 April. The production was nominated for three Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best Musical.
In March 2019, the show opened at the Stage Operettenhaus in Hamburg, Germany.
The show is scheduled to open on Broadway in fall 2019. Adrienne Warren will reprise the title role in the Broadway production. The show began previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on October 12 and will officially open on November 7, 2019.
The musical opens with Anna Mae Bullock’s childhood in Nutbush Tennessee, where she sings exuberantly in the community church despite her mother Zelma’s embarrassment at her loudness (“Nutbush City Limits”). Anna Mae’s parents have a difficult relationship, which culminates in Zelma walking out with her eldest daughter Alline, leaving Anna Mae to be brought up by her grandmother, Gran Georgeanna.
Some years later, Anna Mae is invited to join Zelma and Alline in St. Louis, and she goes with Gran Georgeanna’s encouragement (“Don’t Turn Around”). In St. Louis, Alline introduces Anna Mae to the night life (“Shake a Tail Feather), eventually crossing paths with Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm (“The Hunter”). One night Anna Mae joins Ike on stage to sing (“Matchbox”), and the success of the performance leads Ike to ask Zelma for permission for Anna Mae to join his band (“It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”).
Ike gives Anna Mae the stage name “Tina Turner” despite her protests. Although Tina enjoys performing with him, she’s aware of Ike’s vicious temper (“A Fool in Love”), and has to hide her love affair with Raymond, a member of Ike’s band (“Let’s Stay Together”). After touring successfully for some time, Ike asks Tina to marry him, since people already think they are because of her stage name. Tina agrees, despite being pregnant with Raymond’s child; in response, Raymond leaves her (“Better Be Good to Me”). Tina keeps performing with Ike and his band, through Ike’s infidelities, violence, and demands of Tina’s health despite her having another child (“I Want To Take You Higher”). Ike’s stage manager, Rhonda Graam, advises Tina to leave him, but she refuses.
Ike gets a recording deal with Phil Spector, but is angered when he wants to record Tina solo (“River Deep Mountain High”). Ike is dismissive of Tina’s ability as a solo artist, and during an argument attempts to hit her son, Ronnie. Tina almost walks out, but Ike apologizes and begs her forgiveness (“Be Tender with Me Baby”). Tina overdoses and is sent to hospital, but is forced to check out for a performance (“Proud Mary”). Backstage, Tina and Ike get into another violent fight, which is the final straw and causes Tina to run away. Bruised and bleeding, she asks a hotel clerk for a room to stay, using only her stage name as a promise to pay later since she doesn’t have any money (“I Don’t Wanna Fight”).
Tina, free from Ike, has been performing in Las Vegas with the help of Rhonda, now her manager. They’re struggling to make ends meet because no record label wants to sign a black woman who’s nearing forty years old, and Ike has claimed copyright over all songs from the “Ike & Tina Revue”, preventing her from singing the songs she’s known for (“Private Dancer”). While dropping off a demo tape at Capitol Records, they meet Roger Davies, a young Australian music producer who’s a fan of Tina. Roger goes to Vegas to watch Tina perform (“Disco Inferno”) and afterward asks to be her manager. Rhonda is upset about being put aside, but Tina insists that she needs to try something new, and that she needs Rhonda more as a sister than a manager (“Open Arms”).
Tina travels to London for Roger’s recording session. Among the people she meets is Erwin Bach, a German music executive. Tina wants to reinvent herself and transition to rock and roll, but she struggles with Roger’s advice, and dreams of Ike watching her (“I Can’t Stand the Rain”). Erwin visits her hotel room to provide comfort, and the pair kiss.
While preparing a performance showcase for the record label, Tina rails against Roger’s instructions, refusing to be anyone’s puppet any longer. Tina asks everyone to leave, and performs her Buddhism mantra to calm herself. She has a vision of her younger self and Gran Georgeanna encouraging her (“Tonight”). The showcase is a success, but the record label still refuses to sign her out of racism. Roger decides to promote her himself through touring performances back in the US. Erwin asks her to stay in London and declares his love for her, but she rejects him. Tina’s performance of the new material is a success (“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”). Capitol Records begs her to sign with them, and she agrees only on her own terms.
Alline arrives with news Zelma is dying. Tina visits Zelma at the hospital, where Ike has been staying with Zelma as well. Zelma encourages them to reconcile; Tina demands that Ike apologize, but he can’t and leaves. Zelma and Tina have an emotional confrontation, after which Zelma dies. Tina and Alline mourn their mother (“We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”).
Riding high, Tina prepares for a concert before 180,000 people in Brazil. Erwin arrives, having flown over to be with her. The pair reconcile, which leads into Tina’s walking on stage for the concert (“The Best”). For the finale and encore, Tina and her band perform reprises of “Nutbush City Limits” and “Proud Mary”.
Tina Turner – Private Dancer
|Character||West End (2018)||Broadway (2019)|
|Tina Turner||Adrienne Warren|
|Tina Turner||Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (Alter)|
|Ike Turner||Kobna Holdbrook-Smith||Daniel J. Watts|
|Zelma Bullock||Madeline Appiah||Dawnn Lewis|
|Erwin Bach||Gerard McCarthy||Ross Lekites|
|Roger Davies||Ryan O’Donnell||Charlie Franklin|
|Gran Georgeanna||Lorna Gayle||Myra Lucretia Taylor|
|Phil Spector / Terry Britten||Tom Godwin||Steven Booth|
|Rhonda Graam||Francesca Jackson||Jessica Rush|
|Alline Bullock||Aisha Jawando||Mars Rucker|
|Richard Bullock / Raymond Hill||Natey Jones||David Jennings|
|Craig Hill||Kit Esuruoso||Matthew Griffin|
|Carpenter / Martyn Ware||Jason Langley||Robert Lenzi|
|Ronnie Turner||Baker Mukasa||Jhardon Dishon Milto|
Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner – Nutbush
The musical received generally positive reviews from the critics, with particular praise reserved for Adrienne Warren in the title role as Tina Turner. Michael Billington of The Guardian described the “whirlwind performance” of Warren as “astonishing”, and concluded on the production: “As bio-musicals go, this is as good as it gets.” Similarly Dominic Cavendish of The Daily Telegraph described Warren’s performance as a “tour de force” and considered the show “slickly choreographed, beautifully designed and roof-raisingly well-sung”. Will Gompertz of the BBC criticised the script as “rather disappointingly two-dimensional”, but thought the musical “elegantly staged” with Warren a “24-carat, all singing, all dancing, bona fide star”. Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter noted that while its grand finale contains “stilted, corny elements”, “the production becomes a full-blooded rock show that is “roof-raising” and “life-affirming”, with a climax that “swept the crowd to its feet. Pure button-pushing melodrama, maybe. But irresistibly uplifting entertainment, too.”
- “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical”. LondonTheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- “TINA TURNER MUSICAL IN DEVELOPMENT”. OfficialLondonTheatre.com. 2016-12-16. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- Brown, Mark (2018-03-05). “Katori Hall, writer of Tina Turner musical, on #MeToo, diversity and inclusion”. TheGuardian.com. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- “West End production of TINA extends bookings to February 2019”. BestofTheatre.co.uk. 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- Billington, Michael (17 April 2018). “Tina review – whirlwind Turner tribute leaves you breathless”. The Guardian.
- Cavendish, Dominic (18 April 2018). “Tina The Musical at Aldwych, review – this joyful, lungs-bursting show is simply the best”. The Daily Telegraph.
- Gompertz, Will (21 April 2018). “Will Gompertz reviews Tina: The Musical at London’s Aldwych Theatre”. BBC.
- Dalton, Stephen (17 April 2018). “‘Tina’: Theater Review”. The Hollywood Reporter.
- McPhee, Ryan (2019-03-05). “2019 Olivier Award Nominations: London’s Company and Come From Away Lead the Pack”. Playbill. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, Tina Turner Broadway, Tina Turner, Adrienne Warren, Dawnn Lewis, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Daniel J. Watts, Steven Booth, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Gerald Caesar, Holli’ Conwa, Kayla Davion, Leandra Ellis-Gaston, Charlie Franklin, Judith Franklin, Matthew Griffin, Sheldon Henry David Jennings, Ross Lekites, Robert Lenzi, Gloria Manning, Rob Marnell Mehret Marsh