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Apr 17th, 2018
Our reviewer Kitty on the production in London:
If ever you needed clarification on Tina Turner's legend status then the giddy audience of this fab new jukeboxer is a good place to start. Fans of all ages were whooping from the first bars of the first song (Nutbush City Limits - what else?) And the high never really stops as Adrienne Warren delivers simply the best performance as the Queen of Rock and Roll.
From Nutbush to US stardom with the maniacal Ike Turner (a genuinely terrifying Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) to rock bottom after their acrimonious split, Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins' book will be recognisable to anyone who has followed Turner's career, and sadly a growing theme of many female-led biographical musicals, with domestic violence, financial ruin and broken careers becoming the basis for later success. But that is a different conversation for another time. What can be said is that it's really moving to see a woman choose her own path and follow it despite so much trauma. Ms. Turner herself is listed as a producer and the important moments in her life she has chosen to dramatise seem all the more touching because of it - in amongst the vocal gymnastics, gorgeous costumes and visuals, there are real moments of heart, rising the show above your garden variety juke-boxer.
Heart that is clearly felt by lead Warren, who is magnetic as Tina, from early success to the rock and roll era, decked in a fringed mini-dress or leather and denim with that barnet, she embodies the voice, the look and the soul with a wicked grin and dance moves that would leave Beyonce green-eyed. Supported by a divine cast, including the goofy Gerard McCarthy as Erwin Bach, Lorna Gayle as an inspiring grandma and the aforementioned Holdbrook-Smith as Ike, the show boasts a strong ensemble, and clearly one who truly believe in the story they are telling.
Elsewhere, it's fair play to projection/set designs Jeff Sugg and Mark Thompson who've created nicely simple projections that can go from sweet to menacing in a second, mirroring the action on stage. But their cleverest move is to leave it at that, the songs (all 23 of them) and the voice do the heavy lifting, filling the Aldwych to bursting with their epic power - including contributing to a very entertaining finale dance-along.
All in all, this immensely likeable new musical with an immensely likeable star is one of the year's best so far and a must for Turner fans, where what you get is far more than what you see!
View our show pages for more information about Tina - The Tina Turner Musical, Lunt Fontanne Theater.
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