Broadway Beyond Louisville Review: TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at The Aronoff Center

The production runs Now through November 6th

By: Nov. 01, 2022
Broadway Beyond Louisville Review: TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at The Aronoff Center

In the past 20 years, the landscape of Broadway has changed drastically. The Disney-fication and commercialization of the industry is prevalent with movie-to- musical adaptations and jukebox musicals taking the lead in popularity, while original musicals are becoming harder and harder to sell. That's not to say that jukebox musicals can't be good--heck some of them are great--but the constant churning out can lead to indifference. One of the newer jukebox musicals to hit the stage in the last few years is Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and its national tour just landed in Cincinnati. The show chronicles the trials and tribulations of Tina Turner, from her trying youth to her triumphant solo career.

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.

Villanueva is supported mainly by Garrett Turner as Ike Turner. He has the grit of Ike Turner's voice down. Some of his acting choices were a bit bold for my taste, but that could easily fall on the direction of the piece as well. There's also Lael Van Kuren as Rhonda (Tina's longtime manager and friend), who is great and makes the most out of a small role. The entire cast really is sensational and overcomes a lot of the narrative's shortcomings.

As for the narrative, one thing I will praise is that it unapologetically depicts the domestic violence Tina Turner suffered throughout her life at the hands of her parents as well as Ike Turner. A lot of these scenes are hard to watch in how blunt they are, but a lesser version of the musical would surely have downplayed those elements in the name of being more commercially palatable. However in terms of pacing, the show can feel bloated, with some scenes a bit superfluous. I felt dragging in both acts where the action is halted, while the show also sometimes tries to tackle too much at once.

The design is fairly basic, but the show makes good use of projections and the sparse set pieces to convey different locations. The costumes were phenomenal, specially for Tina, as she sports many iconic looks though the ages.

At the end of the day, Tina is worth your time. It's an interesting story with amazing music and an absolutely earth-shaking performance at its core. Narratively, it isn't as tight as something like Beautiful (my personal gold standard for the bio-jukebox genre), but the story skillfully depicts the rock legend's trials and tribulations with care and pathos, a feat in and of itself that is commendable.

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Now - November 6th

Aronoff Center For The Arts

650 Walnut Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.