Written by Elizabeth Ann Foster
This is not the story of Tina Turner’s stardom, but the journey along the way Turner says of her biographical musical production. The first act is the first half of her life. The second is after her divorce from Ike (Daniel J. Watts) and her struggle to make it on her own – her second and final act. As Turner says in her book “My Love Story” for sale at the theatre, “You might be thinking Tina we know your story. We know all about you and Ike, and the hell you lived through with him. We know you escaped from that terrible relationship and that you endured.” What you don’t know is that she has been without Ike for as long now as she has been with him. This production comes full circle and ultimately is a love story. Tina’s.
Born Anna-Mae (Skye Dakota Turner) in Nutbush Tennessee, we get a glimpse of Turner’s (Adrienne Warren) childhood. Poignant scenes depict a rambunctious young child climbing trees and singing her heart out at church. It all ends when her mother Zelma (Dawnn Lewis) leaves the family home and a young Anna-Mae behind. The abuses her mother took foreshadow Turner’s own. Turner never turned her back on any of her or Ike’s children. The stinging comments her father (David Jennings) made to her as a very young impressionable child branded her for life, “I can’t see my face in you Anna-Mae. Never did.”
Skye Dakota Turner is a surprise powerhouse and steals the show early on as a young Tina.
Enter Warren. It is simply not possible to do the things this actress does in stilettos. She is jumping, running up and down stairs and dancing almost nonstop. It is not sustainable. The audience holds their breath during moments as warren precariously navigates industrial stage sets. Yet night after night she is there. It is exhausting just keeping up with her movements from your seat. This alone is worth the ticket. Ginger Rogers 2.0 or better yet – Tina Turner.
Someone in the audience commented that Erwin Bach’s (Ross Lekites) German accent sounded very British as if it was a character flaw. Perfect observation, as Bach had lost his German accent according to Tina Turner and that is one of the quirks about him that attracted her instantly. At 73 after almost 3 decades together and two proposals Turner finally married Bach who would eventually give Turner one of his kidneys to save her life. So many details are captured so effortlessly in this time-line musical of their first encounter and early years together.
No matter what you have been told about the finale it is so unexpected and enlivening. You cannot sit the last 10 minutes. It is as if the 4thof July and your favorite live concert performance were bundled together and set off right before your eyes. Even though you may know the basic storyline, there are enough revelations from Turner’s private life to make it seem as if you are being introduced to her for the first time.
Tina The Tina Turner Musical – Book by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins.
With: Adrienne Warren (Tina Turner), Daniel J. Watts (Ike Turner), Dawnn Lewis (Zelma), Myra Lucretia Taylor (Gran Georgeanna), Steven Booth (Phil Spector, Terry Britten), Gerald Caesar (Raymond), Holli’ Conway, Kayla Davion, Destinee Rea, Mars Rucker (Ikettes), Charlie Franklin (Roger Davies), Matthew Griffin (Craig), David Jennings (Richard Bullock), Ross Lekites (Erwin Bach), Robert Lenzi (Carpenter), Gloria Manning (Young Alline), Jhardon Dishon Milton (Ronnie), Mars Rucker (Alline), Jessica Rush (Rhonda), Jayden Theophile, Anthony J. Watson (Young Craig), Skye Dakota Turner (young Anna-Mae), Sherrod Barnes, Aure´lien Budynek (Guitars), Winston Roye (Bass), Rocky Bryant (Drums), Yuri Yamashita (Percussion), John Walsh (Trumpet/Flugel), Sara Jacovino (Trombone), Kristy Norter (Alto/Tenor Sax), David Mann (Baritone Sax), Nicholas Skilbeck, Alvin Hough Jr. (Keyboards),
Executive producers Tina Turner and Erwin Bach; production stage manager Kristen Harris; international executive producer James Triner; US associate director Zhalon Levingston; US associate choreographer Janet Rothermel; orchestrations Ethan Popp; music coordinator John Miller; lighting design Bruno Poet; sound design Nevin Steinberg; projection design Jeff Sugg; music director Nicholas Skilbeck; associate music director Alvin Hough Jr. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre 205 West 46thStreet NY NY 10036. October 2-27, 2019. Previews from October 12, 2019 opening November 7, 2019. Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. Friday 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday 3 p.m. Tickets $25.Tickets $99 -$299. Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or call 1877-250-2929.Running time 2 hours 45 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. Recommended for ages 14 and up.