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Now Opening: ‘TINA’ Arrives on Broadway Starring Adrienne Warren

Category Broadway

|by Ron Fassler |

The London hit about rocker Tina Turner lands in New York

If you think you’ve seen the last of the jukebox musicals devoted to the life story of an iconic female singer, think again. In the past two seasons Donna Summer and Cher (Summer and The Cher Show) have been represented and you don’t have to go too far back to remember On Your Feet (Gloria Estefan) or Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which just ended its nearly five-year run. All this to announce that the latest one to hit Broadway is Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (so nice they named it twice) playing the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Adrienne Warren stars as Tina Turner in ‘TINA: The Tina Turner Musical (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Adrienne Warren stars as Tina Turner in ‘TINA: The Tina Turner Musical (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Still running in London where it opened more than a year ago, Tina is hoping to duplicate the same success in New York. The odds are good, as the actress-singer-dancer Adrienne Warren, who created the role, is coming back to Broadway for the first time since 2016, when she received a Tony nomination for Shuffle Along, the much-heralded (though short-lived) Eubie Blake musical. I saw that production three times, and absolutely fell head-over-heels in love with Warren, who was wildly charismatic in two roles, one an introvert and one very much an extrovert. With Tina, she created a firestorm in London, with her powerful pipes and the ease with which she moves her body in Tina Turner-like fashion making critics like Matt Wolf (the London theatre correspondent for the New York Times) write: “The performer is rarely offstage and sings with a feral, uncaged yearning that does the show’s namesake proud. Smaller and more slight than the famously leggy Ms. Turner, Ms. Warren seems to grow in size and stature as she moves toward a fireworks-laden final concert in Brazil that has the feeling of a victory parade. Which, really, is what this remarkable life has been.”

Produced with the cooperation of Turner herself, the musical’s book is co-written by Katori Hall, an African-American playwright whose The Mountaintop, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, ran on Broadway in 2012. Its other writers are the team of Frank Ketellar and Kees Prins, Dutch playwrights who had a hit in Amsterdam with a musical bio of folk singer Andre Hazes titled Hij Gelooft in Mij. The director of Tina is Phyllida Lloyd, who is no stranger to the jukebox musical, having helmed the mega-hit Mamma Mia. Also, among the cast are Daniel J. Watts as Ike Turner, who made his Broadway debut in 2005 in The Color Purple and most recently appeared in Hamilton, and Myra Lucretia Taylor, with Broadway credits ranging from the 2000 Macbeth starring Kelsey Grammer, to the 2003 revival of the musical Nine starring Antonio Banderas.

In the course of her sixty-year career, Tina Turner’s life is an open book, as evidenced by her being the source of numerous biographies, including her own best-selling autobiography I, Tina: My Life Story (1986). There was also the memorable film What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993), that concentrated mainly on the abusive relationship with her ex-husband Ike, and garnered Angela Bassett an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The winner of twelve Grammy Awards, Turner holds the record with four awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005. Turner is also the first female artist in the UK to have a top 40 hit over the course of six consecutive decades.

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