Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at the Orpheum Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade, 2022

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical is a story of second acts and comebacks having come of age in the 1980’s. I was familiar with Tina Turner’s music from that period and aware that she was divorced from Ike Turner, who was an abusive husband. When it came to Ike and Tina Turner, beyond two or three of their 60’s and 70’s hits, I was more or less unfamiliar with their music or the details of their lives. This made for an interesting first act filling in the biographical details, and hearing some really good but unfamiliar classic R&B songs. As interesting as the first act was, like Tina’s career, the show really comes alive in the second act. Realizing what a comeback Tina Turner really made is astonishing. Speaking of astonishing, be warned, do not leave at the curtain call or you are going to miss the best part of the show. The show ends with an encore after the curtain call, basically a showstopper after the show ender, which was in and of itself a real showstopper! I had a great time Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, it brought me back to my teenage years when songs like “Private Dancer” and “What’s Love Got to do With It?” where featured.

The book for the show was written by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins. It begins with a young Anna Mae singing in church loudly, which embarrasses her mother but pleases her father. This results in what we assume is a typical partner of an argument between her parents that leads to physical abuse. Anna Mae’s mother leaves her husbanding taking her older sister Alline with her, but leaving Anna Mae behind to be raised by her Grandmother. Later, when she is 17 her mother sends for her to come live with her and Alline. Alline takes her out with her friends where she eventually meets Ike Turner, where he discovers she’s a good singer, and convinces her mother to let her tour with him. Ike renames her Tina Turner, they get married, and he forces her to promise never to leave him. Ike is a controlling and abusive man, who is clearly at the mercy of his fragile male ego. After 16 years of marriage, Tina finally decides she must leave Ike. She apparently has the worst divorce lawyer on the planet as she then spends the next however-many years working every singing gig she can book at night just to make ends meet, even after she’s been a charting R&B singer. The success she has after taking a chance on a new manager and switching to the Rock-N-Roll genre is like a fairytale.

The Performance I saw had 11 changes to the posted cast list and I see the matinee on Thursday is cancelled due to illness. The actor I saw perform as Tina Turner was understudy, Parris Lewis. I didn’t know the understudy was in while watching the performance. I had no reason to suspect it was an understudy because she put on one heck of a good show. Garratt Turner was Ike Turner and he plays the brutalizing control freak so perfectly, that when Tina finally has enough and fights back, the crowd cheers when she lays him out. As you would expect the singing is very good throughout and there was one particular singer that really won the crowd over. Ayvah Johnson as young Anna Mae is fantastic, she really gets a nice spotlight moment in that encore I mentioned. Believe me you want to stay until the end of this production!

The production is directed by Phyllida Lloyd with Anne Shuttlesworth as Musical Director and Conductor. The show flows well and while somewhat small feeling in comparison to something like Ain’t Too Proud, I think that makes the final moment before the curtain call really pop! The physical confrontation in particular are handled rather convincingly, thanks to the Fight Direction by Sordelet Inc. The Set Design and Costume Designs are by Mark Thompson, and it’s very simple set that is augmented creatively by Jeff Sugg’s Projection Design. The final set reveal is really impactful and is well assisted by the projections used. Bruno Poet’s Lighting Design makes you feel like you are in the audience of a rock concert. It’s a smallish scale production but an effective one.

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical runs through March 12th at the Hennepin Theatre Trusts Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://hennepintheatretrust.org/events/tina-the-tina-turner-musical-broadway-tickets-minneapolis-mn-2023/ .

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My fellow Twin Cities Theater Bloggers and I would like you to be our date to The Prom at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre March 4th matinee performance! We have a discount code that will save you $20 per ticket, and we’ll be hosting a talkback afterwards with the Director Michael Brindisi and cast members Monty Hays, Maya Richardson, and Tod Petersen. click on this link to purchase tickets, the code should apply automatically to get you that discount. And hey, if you cannot make it to the March 4th performance you can use that code for any performance through March 12th use the code TCTB1 for $20 off each ticket. Follow the TCTB on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers.