Review Roundup: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Launches National Tour; Read the Reviews!

The tour launched at the National Theatre in October 2022.

By: Oct. 12, 2022
Review Roundup: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Launches National Tour; Read the Reviews!

The National Tour of Tina - the Tina Turner Musical launched in Washington, D.C. Read all of the reviews here!

The cast is led by Naomi Rodgers (Frozen) and Zurin Villanueva (The Lion King, Mean Girls, Shuffle Along, The Book of Mormon) who will evenly share the role of Tina Turner, each playing four (of eight) performances a week. Also starring are Garrett Turner as Ike Turner, Roz White as Zelma Bullock, Ann Nesby as Gran Georgeanna and Lael Van Keuren as Rhonda.

The ensemble includes Daelyanna Kelly Benson, Antonio Beverly, Taylor A. Blackman, Aliyah Caldwell, Lillian Charles, Max Falls, Zachary Freier-Harrison, Reyna Guerra, Gordia Hayes, Andre Hinds, Takia Hopson, Ayvah Johnson, Geoffrey Kidwell, Parris Mone't Lewis, Nia Nelson-Williams, Gracie Phillips, Nicole Powell, Terance Reddick, Shari Washington Rhone, Kris Roberts, Jacob Roberts-Miller, Aniya Simone, Chris Stevens, Jeff Sullivan and Carlton Terrence Taylor.

National Theatre - Washington, D.C.

Ken Kemp, BroadwayWorld: To say that Rodgers lights up the stage would do her a disservice - she lights the stage on fire and keeps that fire burning throughout the show. Rodgers portrays Turner from her late teens until she takes the stage in front of 180,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro, capping one of the greatest comebacks in musical history. It's an extraordinarily demanding role to play - Rodgers is on stage for almost the entire show - and she has both the vocal talent (and dancing chops and stage presence) to cover Turner's musical catalog, and the acting skill to handle the broad range of emotions that make up Turner's life off stage. (Presumably because of the physical demand this show puts on the lead, the program also lists Zurin Villanueva in the title role, in addition to two understudies. Audience members should be prepared to see either actor in a given performance.)

Andre Hereford, Metro Weekly: Rodgers doesn't look or sound like Tina, and only in those instances that she clearly aims for the singer's singular diction does she sing like Tina, but she still sings the roof off the theater, while selling Van Laast's non-stop choreography, as well as the touching comeback story.

Aronoff Center - Cincinnati, OH

Taylor Clemons, BroadwayWorld: One thing I cannot deny about Tina is that the performances are absolutely stellar. Vocals from the entire cast make this show a worthwhile outing, but Zurin Villanueva (one of two actresses who equally spit the title role at different performances) as Tina gave a truly star-making performance. Her vocals were very Tina-esque without ever feeling like an imitation, and her sheer star quality shines through almost effortlessly as she embodies one of the greatest entertainers in history.

Shea's Performing Arts Center - Buffalo, NY

Michael Rabice, BroadwayWorld: On opening night Naomi Rodgers stepped into the pumps of Tina Turner and she did the legend proud! Rodgers gave a nuanced performance that started meek, growing self assured and later downright dominant. Her rise to fame, only to be knocked down after the breakup with Ike was heartbreaking. Rodgers has a knock out set of pipes, able to scale the heights as well as the introspective lows. She has the legs to carry off the iconic Tina Turner look and by the time she puts on the famous spikey hair wig and miniskirt, you fall in love with her like it was 1985 again.

Hippodrome Theatre - Baltimore, MD

Timoth David Copney, BroadwayWorld: But the night truly belongs to Zurin Villanueva as Tina. Phrases of praise like 'tour de force' and 'vocal tsunami' get bandied about so often that they can begin to lose their impact. In the case of Ms. Villanueva, they are not enough. From her earliest scenes as a gangly teenager to the final, rock-star renditions of two of Tina's biggest hits, she hits the stage like a frigging force of nature and the bone-defying gyrations, gut-clenching emotional moments and sheer power of the performance sweep everything else into secondary status. I won't attempt to analyze any more than that. I have never seen anything like it, and I've seen plenty. This is not your mama's Broadway leading lady. Zurin Villaneueva kicks ass and takes names and no prisoners from the minute the lights hit her. This is a star making performance. I hope the rest of the theatre world realizes just how special this lady is.

Carolina Tomasi, MD Theatre Guide: Playing the title role on a Broadway tour is always a huge task, but when the character is also a legendary musical artist, it becomes even more challenging. Luckily, Zurin Villanueva filled those shoes phenomenally. She stuns as Tina Turner, stealing the show in every scene she is in and effectively transforming throughout the decades the musical covers. And that is nothing on her voice, as she sings these songs as if she owns them. Every time it seemed like she wouldn't be able to impress even more, she did. As for the rest of the performers, there was not a single weak point in the cast. Everyone sounded incredible, danced spectacularly, and gave honest, grounded performances. Ayvah Johnson as young Anna Mae was especially impressive, and she has a bright future ahead of her with those vocal cords. She wows within her first few moments on stage.

Academy Of Music - Philadelphia, PA

Cyndy Drue, WMGK: This new musical reveals a comeback story like no other, of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of racism, sexism, and ageism to become the global Queen of Rock n' Roll. The show is an inspiration of triumph over adversity. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd, I would say, it's a Must See!

Jamie Flowers, West End Best Friend: Naomi Rodgers is electrifying in her role as Tina and the energy that she exerts can light up Philly for a week! Garret Turner ironically plays the devious and brutal Ike Turner so perfectly, he both charms and horrifies with his dark charisma. Other main characters include: Roz White as Zelma Bullock (Tina's mother), Ann Nesby as Gran Georgeanna (Tina's grandmother), Lael Van Keuren as Rhonda (Tina's friend and manager), Lillian Charles as Young Alline (Tina's sister), Max Falls as Erwin Bach/ ensemble (Music Sales turned Tina's lover), Zachary Freier- Harrison as Roger Davies/ ensemble (Music Producer) and Parris Lewis as Alline/ Ikette (Tina's sister and a backup singer). There are many, many more talented actors in the cast that also deserve a standing ovation.

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center: Belk Theater - Charlotte, NC

Vickie Evans, BroadwayWorld: I want to give kudos to leading ladies, Zurin Villanueva and Naomi Rodgers. Anyone who would DARE to step in the shoes of the legendary Tina Turner has humongous courage and confidence. Queen Tina is simply...The Best. Trying to capture the essence of who she is in a such a short a theater of diehard Tina Turner fans is a huge undertaking. There are lot of facts and experiences condensed into a night of entertainment. There is no way to tell it all or even capture it all in true fashion.

DPAC - Durham, NC

Jeffrey Kare, BroadwayWorld: What really keeps this show afloat from beginning to end is the whole cast. Zurin Villanueva (who went on at the performance I attended) shares the title role with Naomi Rodgers. She delivers quite a powerhouse performance overall. Not only does she provide such strong acting in the book scenes, but also killer vocals in the musical numbers. She may not sound exactly like the real Tina Turner, but her voice does offer enough of a resemblance. While the stuff with Ike Turner may have felt underused, I thought Garrett Turner was still perfectly suave and cruel in that part. There's also some heartfelt performances from Roz White as her mother, Zelma Bullock, and Ann Nesby as her grandmother, Gran Georgeanna. I'd also like to give a shoutout to Ayvah Johnson, the little girl who plays Young Anna Mae Bullock, who'd grow up to become Tina Turner.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts - Orlando, FL

Aaron Wallace, BroadwayWorld: For the North American Tour, actresses Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva take turns as Ms. Turner. It was Villanueva in the iconic wig on opening night at Dr. Phillips Center, a performance astounding for its sheer energy alone. But Villanueva seems undecided as to whether her role is impersonation or performance, adopting the rock queen's distinctive affect at times but frequently dropping it in favor of Villanueva's own singing voice, weaving between the two like American actors whose put-on accents come and go during so many British plays. And while she does manage to capture a patina of the diva's one-of-a-kind sound, her Turnerisms occasionally compromise her own stunning voice.

Seth Kubersky, Orlando Weekly: With a compelling life story and classic musical catalogue, Turner deserves a bio-musical as good as Jersey Boys or Beautiful. But even though the touring company visiting Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center through Jan. 15 comes direct from the Great White Way - where the show just closed last August - and boasts a blazing lead performance, Tina fails to take Turner's triumphant tale higher on stage than the Oscar-nominated film What's Love Got to Do With It? did on screen back in 1993.

Broward Center For The Performing Arts - Fort Lauderdale, FL

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Straz Center [Carol Morsani Hall] - Tampa, FL

Drew Eberhard, BroadwayWorld: Finding a performer to play Tina would be a hard task to mount, I mean sure the vocals are important, but more importantly, does the one playing the title role have the stamina? Like a high-speed train, Tina takes off and never looks back. The power the young performer has not only in vocals but in pure stamina is an essential layer of the show. They say that every so often you catch lightning in a bottle and in Zurin Villanueva the bolt has been captured, sealed and contained, ready to burst at any moment.

Orpheum Theatre - Memphis, TN

AniKatrina Fageol, BroadwayWorld: The costumes and wigs are fun and timely, from the girls' dresses in St. Louis to Tina's iconic outfits and hair that we know so well. The choreography makes us want to get up and join in, while the more serious moments are just as beautifully staged. I don't want to spoil anything but the final number is something to behold. The lighting design is spectacular and it takes a village to make the great sets work as well as they do!

Fox Theatre - Atlanta, GA

Wendell Brock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Orpheum Theatre - Minneapolis, MN

Boo Segersin, Twin Cities Arts Reader: As with any jukebox musical, patrons familiar with the work of the featured artist will get more out than those who are not. However, this does not mean that those unfamiliar with Tina Turner's music will find the show unenjoyable. I myself only knew three songs by Tina Turner (all three of which are featured in the show) before curtain, but I still found the show very enjoyable and worthwhile. Both Tina Turner die-hards and novices alike are bound to enjoy this production.

Jared Fessler, BroadwayWorld: This new musical reveals a comeback story like no other, of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of racism, sexism and ageism to become the global queen of rock 'n' roll. Tina - The Tina Turner Musical is a celebration of resilience and an inspiration of triumph over adversity.

James M. Nederlander Theatre - Chicago, IL

Dennis Polkow, New City Stage: It was Villanueva, however, who performed as Tina on opening night. She is certainly a capable performer but to these ears and eyes, there is little Tina-esque about her portrayal. Tina was a growling contralto, Villanueva is a shrieking soprano. Tina sang from her diaphragm, Villanueva uses a head voice. Tina's phrasing was free and flexible. Villanueva is static and tight. Even their body types and speaking voices have little in common. This Tina is a caricature.

Benedum Center for the Performing Arts - Pittsburgh, PA

Greg Kerestan, BroadwayWorld: Zurin Villanueva carries the whole show as Tina Turner, and she is a force of nature. She doesn't always embody the strange, compelling vocal eccentriticities that made Turner so famous; rather, Villanueva sings as the character of Tina and only summons the voice of the historical Tina at key moments so as to not feel like a caricature. Most of the show revolves around her portrayal, and she does not disappoint. She throws herself into the singing and wild dancing with aplomb; if the choreography and slightly zany physicality sometimes seems grotesque, it's because Tina Turner in action WAS slightly grotesque, and that was her charm. It takes a unique persona to be both a sex symbol AND a lifelong obsession for legendary eccentric John Waters, and Tina had the magic to be both at once.

Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts - Hartford, CT

Nancy Sasso Janis, Patch: On opening night, Zurin Villanueva was announced as the star of the performance, playing the role of Tina Turner. Possessing a powerful singing voice with an impressive vocal range, the Brooklyn-born actor embodies the iconic Tina Turner. Villanueva is a graduate of Laguardia High School for the Performing Arts and Howard University and will be seen on Netflix in "Murder Mystery 2." She shares the role with Ari Groover.

Hartford Courant

Connor Palace- PlayhouseSquare - Cleveland, OH

Joey Morona, Despite some of these choices, the production keeps your attention through Tina's inspiring and brave decision to leave Ike at the end of Act I. The show picks up the pace and is decidedly more upbeat in Act II, which opens with Tina in Las Vegas, nearly broke, forgotten by the public and working as a lounge act. Finally free from Ike's controlling fist, she sings of the struggles of her new life in an intimate and provocative performance of "Private Dancer." Eventually, she meets Roger Davies (Zachary Freier-Harrison), a young music producer, and Erwin Bach (Max Falls), a record executive and later her love interest, who present her with an opportunity to reinvent herself.

Christine Howey, Scene: As splendid as Rodgers' performance as Tina is, it doesn't quite capture the wrenching agony that Turner was able to convey through her unique vocal instrument. As a result, there isn't a real climactic emotional moment in this show until, after the curtain call, Rodgers comes back on in full rock-concert mode to deliver "Nutbush City Limits" and "Proud Mary" as a much-appreciated coda.

Roy Berko, BroadwayWorld: The cast is outstanding. Naomi Rodgers sizzled as Tina on opening night. She shares the role with Nurin Villanueva. The duo change-off so who you see depends on which performance you attend.

Civic Center Of Greater Des Moines - Des Moines, IA

DC Felton, BroadwayWorld: Going into the show, I knew two actresses played Tina Turner in the tour. After seeing the show, I can see why, as the role is vocally and physically demanding. For the performance I attended, the role of Tina was played by Zurin Villanueva. She captured the essence of Tina Turner, from her voice to the mannerisms of the moment in her songs. What made her performance amazing for me was that while she did all of this, it never felt as though she was giving an impersonation of Tina Turner. She became Tina Turner.

George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theatre - Salt Lake City, UT

Tyler Hinton, BroadwayWorldNaomi Rodgers is radiant as Tina (double cast with Zurin Villanueva).  She is a strong woman with a commanding presence and tender vulnerability.  She is onstage for nearly the entirety of the show giving her all with stamina that is astonishing.    

Linda Hunt, Salt Lake: But it was the standout, electrifying performance of Naomi Rodgers as Tina Turner that left the audience breathless. She was the Tina Turner we’d been waiting to see.  Tina’s journey as a solo artist began with a new manager, Australian Roger Davies (played by Zachary Freier-Harrison), and a trip to London to explore new music spurred by the advent of computer-aided Rock ’n Roll. Here she meets German marketing executive Erwin Bach, the man she will later marry (and live with the remainder of her life in a small Swiss town outside Zurich).

Pantages Theatre - Los Angeles, CA

Tracey Paleo, BroadwayWorld: More than anything else, Turner’s is a powerful story of resilience, and her music and screen appearances and music videos after “Ike and Tina”, personified that.  She was breathtaking, always, in her uniqueness.  And that is what resonates in TINA, The Tina Turner Musical, on tour at the Hollywood Pantages.

Shaena Engle, Patch: What makes this an exceptional musical is Naomi Rodgers outstanding spot-on energetic performance in the lead role, which she shares with Zurin Villanueva. It’s easy to see why two performers share the demanding lead role – each star in four performances a week – and are onstage for most of the 2 hours and 40 minute run time.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts - Costa Mesa, CA

Christopher Smith, The Orange County Register:  And while this posthumous mounting —the star herself died at 83 in May — isn’t required to be a cathartic musical homage, one could hope for at least a memorable showcase of her extraordinary talent. Instead, one leaves this show wanting not more, but perhaps something different.

Civic Theatre - San Diego, CA

San Diego Union-Tribune

Golden Gate Theatre - San Francisco, CA

Lily Janiak, Datebook: Embodying the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll, who died in May, at 83, Villanueva grips her mic stand as if she’s planting the flag at Iwo Jima. She delivers Anthony van Laast’s choreography with the force and precision of an oil derrick mining for liquid gold. She sojourns to the outer reaches of the voice — yowls, growls, roars, ululations, rips, slides, those twangy Turner vocal quirks — and has a party there. Her gaze gives every impulse the whole range of human feeling. Joy is always cut with yearning. Rock-bottom grief still blazes with the fire of life. 

Keller Auditorium - Portland, OR

Eric Ash, Willamette Week: If Tina Turner were to see the crowds coming around the block both ways at Keller Auditorium to see the musical about her life, whose production she personally approved, she would undoubtedly smile.

Paramount Theatre - Seattle, WA

Jay Irwin, BroadwayWorld: We have two Tinas (Ari Groover whom I saw, and Naomi Rodgers who plays on alternate nights) and we have two Young Anna Maes (Symphony King whom I saw, and Brianna Cameron) and considering the vocal strain these ladies must endure, I’m not surprised.  Let’s start with King who blew everyone away.  She’s only got a few scenes before Anna Mae grows up, but she makes the most of them and even gets to come back and kill it during the post show concert.  But it’s Groover who must carry the lion’s share of the burden and she does it beautifully.  I did feel she lost some of her diction in the latter half of the show, but her vocals were stunning.  Not only that but she’s nailing the emotional core of the show and she captures the audience from the word “go” and never lets us loose.  Not a small feat.

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Reviews: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Launches National Tour; Photo
Reviews: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Launches National Tour;

The National Tour of Tina - the Tina Turner Musical launched in Washington, D.C. Read all of the reviews here!



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