Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall

The Tina Turner Musical

By: Dec. 07, 2023
Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall

Tina Turner was one of a kind.  Tina passed away last May 24, 2023 at age 83 at her home in Kusnacht Switzerland near Zurich after a long illness.  Kansas City audiences will get the chance to enjoy Tina’s story one more time during a week-long residency of “Tina, The Tina Turner Musical” at the Kansas City Music Hall through Sunday, December 10. 

Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall
Parris Lewis as Tina Turner

“Tina” is a juke box musical of the type we have seen so many of in the past few years.  It tells the story of Tina’s life and treats us to another opportunity to enjoy her high- energy music.   While Tina herself may be gone, she was highly involved in the show’s creation.  The show is directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who created "Mama Mia!," the first of this generation of juke box genre shows.

The sheer spectacle of “Tina” is amazing.  Emphasizing the fact that Tina Turner was one of a kind, the gravely-voiced, sexy, full out singing style of Tina Turner is so stressful on the performer’s voices, this show uses two actresses to play her on alternate evenings.  They are Ari Groover and Parris Lewis.  One singer rests while the other performs.

Ari Groover starred in the Broadway Company of “Tina” as older sister Alline and as the understudy for the title role.  Ari was also in the original Broadway casts of “Head Over Heels” and “Holler If Ya Hear Me” Ari Grooves is an Artist, DJ, and an interstellar force to be reckoned with. Born with the name Ariana Groover is a known Broadway performer and choreographer that has been shifting the NYC scene as we know it.. S

Parris Lewis shares the role of Tina Turner.  She is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman

Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall
Ari Groover as Tina Turner

University.  In addition to being a classically trained singer, Parris has previously toured with “The Color Purple,” “Stonewall,” and has performed at Carnegie Hall.

We saw Parris on opening night at the Kansas City Music Hall and she is a super performer.  According to reviews, Tina may be the most exhausting part ever created.  After having watching it performed, it is easy to expect that is true.  It certainly must have been exhausting to have been the real Tina.

The show is performed mainly on a bare stage with very few set elements and a huge LED screen backing the action where the cyclorama would normally have been.  Mark Thompson is responsible for the setting and the no doubt the computerized immersive shifts in setting that drive the action.  Lighting design is offered by Bruno Poet.  The lighting and sets are important here because they reach out and grab the audience, transporting them from Kansas City to wherever the show wants to take us.  Instead of standard projections, the LEDs at times make you want to duck in your seats.  The rain seems real.  The explosions reach out to you.

Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall
Roz White as Mama Zelma

It is difficult to criticize anything we see on stage as performance.  Wildlin Pierrevil as Ike Turner is excellent.   You want to hate this guy.  Roz Smith White as Mama Zelna is very good.  I was especially struck by the voice of Gerald M. Williams as Raymond Hill, Tina’s first serious boyfriend in St. Louis.   The ensemble tells the story as well as it can be told with this script.

“Tina” is more than anything else a biography as remembered by Tina herself.  With Tina’s passing, this show has to be the penultimate recounting of her memories.   This follows three books, a feature film, and at least one documentary film. We know Tina was deeply involved in the construction of this show.  She is credited as being an Executive Producer along with her husband Erwin Bach.  The show has been in progress since 2016.   The book writers are credited as Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins.  These folks are credible writers.

Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall
What's Love Got To Do With It?

“Tina” has moments of greatness, but it attempts to span such a long period of time and shows Tina overcoming so much that it is easy to get lost in the movements through time.   Many songs have been repurposed in a way that makes them difficult to recognize and enjoy in their original context.  It is difficult to know what the composition process was really like, but we know that Tina, at the least, approved of the final product.

Review: TINA at Kansas City Music Hall
Briana Cameron as "Young Anna Mae"

Anyone who did Tina injury over her long life is noted and the injury explained.  Some are legit.  Other actions stretch credulity.  After Tina finally managed to escape Ike, she spent time in the wilderness, before becoming the person and performer that we remember so kindly and warmly today.  

In her later life, it appears Tina (Ann Maye Bullock) found love in the person of Irwin Bach.  She became a performing institution.  She survived the death of a child, serious illness, Intestinal Cancer, high blood pressure, a stroke, and a kidney transplant from Irwin.  She became a Swiss citizen and lived happily outside Zurich after her 2009 retirement until she passed away.

It is remarkable that we recall her performances so vividly when the last one was a quarter century in the past.  She hid her infirmities through the end and we were surprised to hear she had died.

Tina’s last public appearance was at the opening of this show in New York after a successful run in London.

So, “Tina” the musical continues at the Kansas City Music Hall through Sunday Dec 10.  Enjoy the spectacle and two fabulous Tinas along with a great supporting group and orchestra.  Celebrate the myth and the woman that certainly was “Enough.”  She retained the ability entertain up to 180,000 people live all at once.  See the show and decide for yourself.

Tickets for the national Tour of “Tina, The Tina Turner Musical” are available online at www.americantheaterguild.com or by telephone at 816-421-7500. 

Photos by Mathew Murphy     

   




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