What to expect from the Tina Turner musical
We all ready know a few details about Tina - The Musical, the show based on Tina Turner’s career. But what will that mean on stage? Well, apart from the fact it runs at the Aldwych from March 2018, we know the show will follow her life from growing up in America to stardom, and will feature all Turner’s greatest hits. Here’s a taste of what we can expect.
Anna Mae Ruddock was born in a tiny Southern town called Nutbush, Tennessee, which in 2000 had a population of just 259 people. 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.
Turner’s recording career has spanned five decades, selling over 100 million records worldwide. With Ike Turner she found early success with “A Fool in Love” and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine” (which earned a Grammy nomination). Record producer Phil Spector recorded Tina’s hit “River Deep - Mountain High“, which he considered some of his best work. It reached number 88 on the US singles chart, but reached the third position in the UK charts. The Revue went on to tour the UK, opening for The Rolling Stones, and then in the US.
Tina’s solo career quickly took off after splitting with Ike in the mid-‘70s. The ‘80s brought her success with hits such as “Let’s Stay Together” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It”.
She also tried her hand at acting. In 1985, she travelled to Australia to appear in the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome with Mel Gibson. The songs "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" and "One of the Living” featured on the soundtrack, and Turner won a Grammy Award for the latter.
After Break Every Rule was released in 1986, and featured the songs "Two People”, "What You Get Is What You See” and "Typical Male”, Turner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After breaking the world record for largest paying audience (184,000 at the Maracana Stadium, Brazil), Turner released the album The Best.
In 1993, Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishbone starred in a semi-autobiographical film of Ike and Tina Turner’s lives, What’s Love Got to Do With It. Turner re-recorded a number of the songs from her revue days, and she embarked on a tour of the US (her first in seven years) after the film’s release. She semi-retired in 2000.
‘This took me out of retirement’
At a recent event launching the musical, Turner declared this project has brought her out of retirement, to a degree. She’s been very much involved in the process, with Phyllida Lloyd flying to the star’s home in Switzerland to talk through the project. She’s also had a hand in casting the show. After all, who better to pick the show’s Tina than Tina Turner herself?
The West End’s Tina Turner
American actress Adrienne Warren was announced to be taking on the lead role of the musical earlier this year. Warren is well-known on Broadway having earned a Tony Award nomination for her role in in the musical Shuffle Along in 2016. 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.
There’s plenty of stellar material to work with here, we don’t need any new songs. But, wouldn’t it be great it Turner penned a new number or two for the show? In 2009, Turner recorded two new songs for her singles collection album (also called Tina!): “It Would Be a Crime” and “I’m Ready”. So who knows?
In a recent interview, Tina stated that, despite claiming his mother taught him, it was actually Tina who showed Mick Jagger how to move. And we wouldn’t put that past her. The pair hung out, with friend David Bowie, all the time; Turner says they were the “brothers I never had”. But, rock’n’roll legend Turner was renowned for her stage presence.
A film version?
This is the first stage musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd since Mamma Mia, which is still running in the West End after 20 years. So not a bad precedent to set. The musical was elevated to a worldwide audience when, in 2008, Lloyd directed the screen adaptation of the show, starring Amanda Seyfried, Piers Brosnan, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. So could it happen with Tina? We will have to wait and see.
Tina - The Musical Tickets are available now.