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Photo credit: Adrienne Warren and Tina Turner (Photo by Craig Sugden)

What to expect from the Tina Turner musical

Will Longman
Will Longman

Tina Turner has transformed rock and roll forevermore. But, do you know much about the singer? Tina the Musical, the show based on Tina Turner's career is going down a storm at the Aldwych Theatre. Here's a taste of what you can expect from the world premiere production of Tina the Musical currently running in London.

Tina the Musical will reopen at the Aldwych Theatre on 28 July 2021, with more information on Tina the Musical in London here.

Book Tina the Musical tickets at the Aldwych Theatre now.

What is Tina the Musical about?

Tina the Musical dramatises the life and career of Tina Turner, acknowledging both the highs and lows. Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Ruddock in a tiny Southern town called Nutbush, Tennessee, Anna was born in 1939 on the farm where her father was an overseer of the sharecroppers. Anna had an older sister, Ruby Aillene, but they were separated as their parents moved help during the war, and Anna moved in with her strict parents in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The family returned to Nutbush, but when Anna was 11, her mother ran away to flee her abusive relationship with Floyd Bullock. After relocating again, Anna went to high school in Brownsville where she joined the local cheerleading and basketball teams. Here, she got her first boyfriend, Harry Taylor, but the relationship ended when she found out he had married another woman. After graduating high school, she became a nurse's aide, with the hope of one day becoming a nurse.

Anna and her sister enjoyed spending nights in St. Louis nightclubs, in particular, Club Manhattan on the east side of town. There, Ike Turner and his band Kings of Rhythm would perform. Tina has described being in awe of the performances and one night, she was invited on stage to perform, eventually becoming a guest vocalist.

Her break came in 1960 when, after the original performer didn't show up, Ike let Anna record a track he had written, with the intention that the original artist would re-record the vocals at a later date. However, record label executive Juggy Murray liked "A Fool in Love" so much, he paid $25,000 for the track, and convinced Ike to make Anna the star of the show. He did, giving her a pseudonym - Tina Turner - so she could be replaceable and effectively a role played by someone else if need be.

When did Tina the Musical premiere?

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Joelle Dyson, Chloe Chambers and Jayme-Lee Zanoncelli
(Photo by Manuel Harlan)

Tina the Musical received its world premiere at London's Aldwych Theatre. Performances began on 21 March 2018, ahead of an opening night on 17 April. Previous shows at the Aldwych Theatre include Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Wolf Hall and Top Hat.

Who wrote Tina the Musical?

Tina the Musical features a book by Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins. Katori Hall is an American playwright and activist, whose works include Our Lady of Kibeho and The Mountaintop.

Although she did not write the book for Tina the Musical, Tina Turner is greatly involved in the musical's creation. At a launch event in London, Tina Turner declared the project took her "out of retirement", with director Phyllida Lloyd regularly flying to Switzerland to talk through the musical with Tina herself.

Who wrote the songs in Tina the Musical?

As Tina the Musical is a jukebox musical, songs in the show are taken from Tina Turner's glittering music career. Did you know that Tina Turner's records have been sold over 100 million times, making her one of the most successful artists of all time?

Original songwriters include Lulu for "I Don't Wanna Fight", Al Green for "Let's Stay Together" and Sly Stone for "I Want To Take You Higher."

Who is in the cast of Tina the Musical?

The current Tina the Musical cast includes Aisha Jawando as Tina Turner, Jammy Kasongo as Ike Turner and Chanel Haynes as alternate Tina. 

Joe Evans plays Phil Spector and Terry Britten, with Irene Myrtle Forrester as GG, Francesca Jackson and Alice Bailey Johnson as Rhonda Graam, Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky as Alline Bullock, Matt Mills as Richard Bullock, Posi Morakinyo as Raymond Hill, Garmon Rhys as Roger Davies, Joseph Richardson as Erwin Bach and Madeline Appiah as Zelma.

Casting is completed by Lori Barker, Kelly Hampson, Chris Grahamson, Paul Mukembo, Alex Okoampa, Samara Casteallo, Mia Musak, Anu Ogunmefun, Derek Aidoo, Joshua Da Costa, Livvy Evans, Raquel Jones, DeeArna McLean, Michael Thomas, Saran Webb, Samuel J Weir,Tia Murrell, Rae Ann Quayle, Poppy Cunningham, Shai Codrington, Sophia Anne Angiama, Mia Jones, Elias Agbodan George, Remi Dabiri-McQuaid and Romell Barrocks-Bedeau.

Who was in the original cast of Tina the Musical?

The original cast of Tina the Musical starred Adrienne Warren as Tina, handpicked by the Queen of Rock and Roll herself. Warren is an American actress, who'd previously earned a Tony Award nomination for Shuffle Along at the Music Box Theatre.

In initial workshops, she impressed Turner who said: "From the moment I met her... I saw her exceptional talent." You could say Warren is pretty chuffed with the role, too. She said: "Meeting and working with Tina is and will always be one of the great moments of my life". We're pretty sure she's got what it takes to play the rock 'n' roll legend, can't wait to see her on stage.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith originated the role of Ike Turner, who was awarded an MBE in 2020 for services to Drama.

What is the running time of Tina the Musical?

Ashley Zhangazha (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

The running time for Tina the Musical in London is 2 hours and 45 minutes, inclusive of 1 15 minute interval.

What songs are in Tina the Musical?

Tina Turner's recording career has spanned five decades, selling over 100 million records worldwide. All of Tina Turner's greatest songs are in the musical, including "Proud Mary" and "What's Love Got to Do With It". Here are all the songs in Tina the Musical with the album available to listen to below.

Act 1

"Nutbush City Limits" - Richard, Young Tina and Company
"Don't Turn Around" - Tina, Gran Georgeanna and Company
"Shake a Tail Feather" - Alline, Tina, Ikettes and Company
"The Hunter" - Ike and Ronnie
"Matchbox" - Ike, Tina and Company
"It's Gonna Work Out Fine" - Zelma, Ike, Tina, Alline, Ikettes and Company
"A Fool in Love" - Tina and Ikettes
"Let's Stay Together" - Raymond and Tina
"Better Be Good to Me" - Tina and Company
"I Want to Take You Higher" - Tina, Alline and Ikettes
"River Deep Mountain High" - Tina and Company
"Be Tender with Me Baby" - Ike, Tina, Alline, Ikettes, Ronnie and Richard
"Proud Mary" - Tina, Ike, Alline and Ikettes
"I Don't Wanna Fight" - Tina and Company

Act 2

"Private Dancer" - Tina
"Disco Inferno" - Tina and Company
"Open Arms" - Rhonda, Tina and Company
"I Can't Stand the Rain" - Tina, Ike and Company
"Tonight" - Young Tina, Gran Georgeanna, Tina and Roger
"What's Love Got to Do with It?" - Tina, Ikettes, Ronnie and Raymond
"We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" - Tina and Company
"The Best" - Tina and Company
"Nutbush City Limits (Reprise)" - Company
"Proud Mary (Reprise)" - Company 

Will Tina the Musical be made into a film?

This is the first stage musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd since Mamma Mia!, which you can see at the Novello Theatre. Mamma Mia! was elevated to a worldwide audience when, in 2008, Lloyd directed the screen adaptation of the show, starring Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. So could it happen with Tina? We will have to wait and see.

A feature-length documentary all about Tina Turner will be released in April 2021. Over 40 years of footage will be used, as well as interviews with Oprah Winfrey and The Mountaintop playwright Katori Hall. Read more about the documentary on New York Theatre Guide

What are the reviews of Tina the Musical like?

As Tina the Musical was a brand new name in London, theatre lovers worldwide had their eyes on the Aldwych Theatre, praying for the musical to be a hit. Mercifully, critics loved the musical's take, with Will Longman saying "It's got the anthems, it's got the moves, it's got the hair... It's everything you expected, executed well and packs in a few surprises. Simply the Best? If you're a Tina fan, it'll definitely be pretty close."

For The Guardian, Michael Billington said of Tina the Musical "[it] offers a heady celebration of triumph over adversity and boasts a whirlwind performance by Adrienne Warren that left the audience, though not the star herself, breathless." This view was shared by Will Gompertz for the BBC, complimenting Warren as "a 24-carat, all singing, all dancing, bona fide star." However, he was less favourable to the story, commenting on " Katori Hall's rather disappointingly two-dimensional script." Nonetheless, all press and public audiences cannot get enough of Tina the Musical.

What awards has Tina the Musical won?

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe and the cast of Tina
(Photo by Manuel Harlan)

After wowing audiences, Tina the Musical seemed to be a shoe-in for theatre awards. Both in the United Kingdom and for the Broadway transfer, Tina the Musical has taken home awards, guaranteeing the musical's longevity on both side of the ponds. Here's all the awards that global productions of Tina the Musical has won.

Olivier Awards

Best Actor in a Musical - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Ike Turner

Tony Awards (all pending)

Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical - Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical - Adrienne Warren
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical - Daniel J. Watts
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical - Myra Lucretia Taylor
Best Direction of a Musical - Phyllida Lloyd
Best Choreography - Anthony Van Laast
Best Orchestrations - Ethan Popp
Best Scenic Design of a Musical - Mark Thompson and Jeff Sugg
Best Costume Design of a Musical - Mark Thompson
Best Lighting Design of a Musical - Bruno Poet
Best Sound Design of a Musical - Nevin Steinberg

What are some fun facts about Tina Turner and Tina the Musical?

Before a Broadway transfer, Tina the Musical had a German premiere at the Stage Operettenhaus in Hamburg, Germany.

Nyassa Alberta has starred in the German and Dutch productions of Tina, making her the first actress to play the role in two languages.

Tina Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards to date.

Tina Turner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986.

How do I get tickets for Tina the Musical?

Tina the Musical tickets are available on LondonTheatre.co.uk. Currently, Tina the Musical tickets are available for performances from 28 July to 26 Jun. 2022.

Tina the Musical tickets are on sale now.

Photo credit: Adrienne Warren and Tina Turner (Photo by Craig Sugden)

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