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Broadway Review: “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (Currently On)

Broadway Review: “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (Currently On)
Book by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins
Additional Music by Nicholas Skilbeck
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There are two major elements that undeniably contribute to the success of the entrancing new Broadway Show “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” now playing at the Lunt- Fontanne Theatre. The first is the captivating life journey of the musical icon and the second is the truly remarkable performance of Adrienne Warren that solidifies her star status on the Great White Way. They are joined by all the other components needed to establish an electrifying evening of entertainment; however, as powerful and striking as these are, it is the split second you close your eyes and swear you are listening to Tina Turner and when you open them it actually takes a moment to realize it is not her. The dynamic and relentless performance is riveting.

Although the book by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins is abbreviated, it tries to capture the high and low points of Turner’s life and career. Beginning at an early age as a rambunctious child singing gospel in church in Nutbush, Tennessee, Tina makes history when she performs in South America for the first time at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro before a crowd of one hundred and eighty thousand people. Sent to live with her Grandmother after her mother left her with her abusive father, she returns to live with her mother and sister in St. Louis as a teenager beginning her musical career after meeting musician Ike Turner. Pregnant with another musician’s child, she has the baby but still marries Ike who becomes even more controlling and abusive until she gathers the strength to leave with thirty-six cents in her pocket. The second act of the show is devoted to her comeback and rise to stardom as a solo performer. Her life was filled with rejection, abuse, and racism, but it never broke her spirit. The writing team has taken some artistic and literary license but most of what is presented is factual.

The cast is remarkable turning in some memorable performances which support the production. Young Anna-Mae (Turner’s birth name) is given an exuberant portrayal by Skye Dakota Turner with a vocal rendition of “Nutbush City Limits” that brings down the house, marking a phenomenal Broadway debut. Myra Lucretia Taylor brings an endearing Gran Georgeanna filled with wisdom and sensitivity to the stage and captures the hearts of the audience with an emotional rendering of “Don’t Turn Around.” David J. Watts epitomizes the brutal, abusive husband in Ike Turner with little reservation and reckless, ostentatious behavior. Then there is Adrienne Warren who indisputably is the show, as she steamrolls through two hours and forty-five minutes of singing, dancing and emotional drama with poise and boundless energy. Her vocals are captivating as a balladeer or rock star. She does not fall prey to emulating this musical legend but embodies her soul giving a performance that will surely find its place in the chronicle of Broadway history.

Unfortunately, what surrounds this superstar is not as impressive and does not elevate the production. Lighting design by Bruno Poet becomes repetitious and loses its impact. Projection design by Jeff Sugg repeatedly reduce incredible musical numbers into quasi music videos with a panorama resembling an abstract kaleidoscope of moody colors. Mark Thompson fares much better with his endless array of costumes then with the mundane set designs. Regardless of their shortcomings throughout the show this creative team does not disappoint in delivering an eleven o’clock musical number and finale that shakes the rafters and is worth the price of admission.

The show is not perfect, but it is certainly a felicitous tribute to a brave woman who beat the odds and rose to stardom because of her talent and determination. Ms. Warren gives an award-winning performance that exhibits the passion and defines the spiritual strength of Tina Turner, as well as demonstrating her own powerful commitment to perfection, establishing herself as a bona fide Broadway star.

TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL

“Tina” stars Adrienne Warren with Daniel J. Watts, Dawnn Lewis, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Myra Lucretia Taylor and Steven Booth, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Gerald Caesar, Holli’ Conway, 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, Jhardon DiShon Milton, Destinee Rea, Mars Rucker, Jessica Rush, Justin Schuman, Alyssa Shorte, Carla Stewart, Jayden Theophile, Skye Dakota Turner, Antonio Watson and Katie Webber.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and written by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, “Tina” features choreography by Anthony van Laast, with set and costume designs by Mark Thompson, musical supervision, additional music and arrangements by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Bruno Poet, sound by Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Jeff Sugg, orchestrations by Ethan Popp and casting by Telsey + Company.

“Tina” is currently running at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (205 West 46th Street). For further information on “Tina,” including the full performance schedule and how to purchase tickets, visit https://tinaonbroadway.com/. Running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes including one intermission.

Photo: Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner. Credit: Manuel Harlan.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Friday, November 8, 2019