Review: TINA, THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at The Paramount

The bio-musical of a legend comes to town.

By: Sep. 13, 2023
Review: TINA, THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at The Paramount
Review: TINA, THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at The Paramount
Naomi Rodgers as ‘Tina Turner
in the North American touring production of
Photo credit:  Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Dear Readers, I’m thrilled to say that my opinion of “Tina, The Tina Turner Musical”, currently playing at the Paramount, has changed.  I saw it way back in 2018 in London and was not impressed.  The show, while having tons of talent, also had tons of problems.  Fast forward to now and it seems like some of those issues have been fixed.  Some, but not all.  But still making for a better evening than I expected.

First there’s the story.   You all know about the tumultuous history of Ms. Turner from her abusive family to her abusive marriage to her astounding comeback.  And if you aren’t familiar, well, that’s what you’re in for, mixed in with as many pieces from her songbook as they could fit.  And this brings me to the two main issues I had with the show then, and to an extent, still have with the show now. 

Let’s start with the book from Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins.  They manage to hit all the high and low points of her life, but they do so at the speed of light, especially in Act One.  They are so desperate to cram just one more well-known song into the mix that they race through it all.  The lightning pace with which they deal with these moments, often leaves them a hollow blur.  It is better than when I saw it before, and I will say the Act One closer did bring a tear to my eye, but the problem is still there.  Act Two does a better job in slowing things down but by then the damage is done.

Then there are the songs.  Songs I do love, being a big Tina Turner fan.  But they try and put them all in whether they fit that moment or not.  Now, back in 2016 I seem to recall there being an issue that many bio-musicals have, where they try and fit so many songs in that what we actually get are snippets of the songs.  It appears they fixed that issue now, but what that also means is that the show is near 3 hours long, including the intermission and including the obligatory concert at the end where we get just a few more songs.  Songs, I might add, that were part of the show already so I’m not sure what the point was. 

The cast is, however, fantastic.  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.

Roderick Lawrence pulls the unenviable task of playing Ike Turner, the show’s despicable villain, made even more despicable in that he existed.  But he handles it so well that amidst all the cheers during his curtain call, I think I even heard some boos.  For the character and not for his performance, I’m sure.  And the rest of the ensemble are equally wonderful and working super hard up there and deserve all the praise. 

It's not my favorite bio-musical out there.  That still goes to “Beautiful, The Carol King Musical” that is one of the few that got it all right.  But “Tina” has certainly gotten better over time and is absolutely a good time.  And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give “Tina, The Tina Turner Musical” a “not simply the best but far from simply the worst” YAY-.  And problems aside, it’s still Tina Turner’s songs so just strap in and have fun.

“Tina, The Tina Turner Musical” performs at the Paramount Theatre through September 17th.  For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at


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